Female lawmakers make bipartisan push for more women in politics at All In Together gala
© Stefani Reynolds

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle gathered at the Newseum on Wednesday evening to celebrate the fifth anniversary of All In Together (AIT), a group focused on increasing women’s participation in political life.

CNN chief political correspondent Dana BashDana BashThe Hill's 12:30 Report: McConnell, Pelosi at odds over next relief bill CNN's Tapper scolds Biden for not coughing into his elbow during live interview The Southern Poverty Law Center and yesterday's wars MORE emceed the gala, where Sens. Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerSenators balance coronavirus action with risks to health Coronavirus takes toll on Capitol Hill As we face coronavirus battle, we must ensure critical supplies of respirators for health care workers MORE (R-Neb.) and Tina SmithTina Flint SmithDemocrats call for pollution reduction requirements in any aid for airlines, cruises Democratic Senators introduce bill to provide free coronavirus testing Democratic senators ask prison operators for answers on coronavirus plans MORE (D-Minn.) spoke in their capacity as senatorial co-chairwomen of the event. Reps. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeCBS All Access launches animated 'Tooning Out the News' series Bill banning menthol in cigarettes divides Democrats, with some seeing racial bias Democrats spar with DeVos at hearing, say Trump budget would 'privatize education' MORE (D-Calif) and Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyPelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid Sunday shows preview: State governors and top medical officials prepare for next week of COVID-19 response Members of House GOP leadership self-quarantining after first lawmakers test positive MORE (D-Fla.) participated in a panel discussion with Bash.

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“Everyone in this room knows that women make the world work. We lead in the boardroom, we run small businesses, and we serve in Congress in record numbers,” Fischer said. “Women have made great progress, but we do have more work to do. We need to encourage other women to step up — it’s not just step forward, it’s step up — to get involved in the political process.”

During her speech, Smith called for greater engagement in civic life.

“I want you to know that democracy only works if we participate. Democracy on autopilot goes in the ditch,” Smith said. “Your country and your community needs you in any way that you choose to serve that role, that most precious role of democracy, which is to participate.”

Lauren Leader, the group’s co-founder and CEO, highlighted the wave of women elected during the 2018 midterms and the female activists who helped send them to Congress, calling it a sign of progress over the course of AIT’s first five years.

Leader told The Hill that when the organization launched, “it was a different world when it came to women’s political participation.”

“We could never have imagined some of the highs and lows over the last five years in terms of women’s leadership,” Leader said. “Like all women’s organizations, we dream of closing some of these big gender gaps."

She cited figures showing the U.S. is 98th in the world in terms of women’s political participation.

"We were 54th when we started, and we’d like to see those numbers climb back up,” Leader said.

She added that Congress, where each chamber is only 25 percent female, has yet to take up many of the most important issues that affect women.

“I’d like to see more issues that matter to a plurality of women actually progress — things like family leave and child care and equal pay, issues that are not partisan but have not progressed,” Leader said.

Bash said that having more women in Congress might lead to greater bipartisanship and cooperation in order to take action on the issues that matter to women.

“In my experience, just watching and reporting on the women [in Congress], it is amazing how much more women can get done,” Bash said. “We’re multitaskers, and we don’t have time to deal with you-know-what. We sit down, roll up our sleeves, and get stuff done.” 

Fischer echoed the bipartisan aspect.

“I think it’s always important to support other women,” Fischer said in an interview with The Hill. “I think it’s important to show that we do work in a bipartisan way.”