WASHINGTON—Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), along with Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Cori Bush (MO-01), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), and Jackie Speier (CA-14), introduced a House resolution recognizing that violence against women in politics is a global phenomenon and that more research should be conducted to examine its extent and effects in the United States. The resolution, endorsed by National Democratic Institute (NDI), also calls on the U.S. government to adopt policies that promote women’s political participation and help mitigate violence against women in politics in the United States and abroad.
“…women have been on the frontlines of social justice movements around the world and throughout our Nation’s history…[and]…violence against women in politics is a specific, gendered phenomenon stemming from a resistance to women’s increased political participation and intending to undermine women as political actors,” portions of the resolution read.
The introduction comes after a Republican Congressman, Representative Paul Gosar (AZ-04), posted a manipulated video on his social media accounts depicting himself killing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Joseph Biden. The video – which also spread hateful, false, xenophobic rhetoric about immigrants – was posted on the Congressman’s official Instagram account using taxpayer funds allocated by the House of Representatives, in effect using taxpayer dollars to incite violence against elected officials.
According to the 2018 Violence Against Women in Politics Report by UN Women and UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, women of color appear to be disproportionately affected by it and risks of political engagement are likely higher for women of marginalized communities. A recent study of U.S. mayors, which found that female mayors are more likely than men to experience most types of violence and abuse, also indicates such incidents are not out of the ordinary for women in U.S. politics generally. Congresswoman Tlaib herself spoke on the House floor on the issue in March of 2020—and it has only continued to gain international prominence since.
“As women in politics—and women of color—we are all too familiar with the vitriol and constant threats of violence that come with claiming our rightful place in the world and a seat at the table of our democracy,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “But the relentless and misogynistic attempts to intimidate, debase and silence us because of our gender only strengthen our resolve in pursuit of equality and justice. We must never accept this violence as simply the cost of women’s participation in civic and political life and must continue to raise awareness and root out these sexist attacks wherever they take place. I am proud to join Representative Tlaib in introducing this resolution, which recognizes violence against women in politics as the global crises that it is and affirms the rights of women everywhere to serve our communities in halls of power.”
“Receiving constant death threats – including against my family – hasn’t stopped me from speaking truth to power, but such hate and risk should not be the inherent cost of any woman participating in politics, regardless of her race, creed, sexual or gender identity, or any other defining quality of who she is,” said Congresswoman Tlaib. “We so often hear the future is female—and I introduce this resolution as a means of securing it. Our future is so much brighter if we can build a world in which women and nonbinary individuals are free to fight for their communities and serve in government without fear of violence and abuse.”
“I have received numerous death threats over the course of my nearly 40 years in office, including attacks that required me to be moved into protective custody as a widowed mother with two young children while wearing a bullet proof vest and those that have resulted in criminal prosecutions. I have seen too many of my friends and colleagues face the same threats, particularly women of color who are targeted with not just violent and misogynistic attacks, but racial slurs as well. The rhetoric we’re seeing now, particularly from fellow Members of Congress, has ratcheted up to a level that I had never dreamed possible,” said Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus. “It is truly horrifying, though it will not deter us from standing up, speaking out, and fighting for women in Congress, the workforce, and everywhere. We are not afraid and we will not back down.”
“Women are subject to fear, intimidation, threats and, in some cases, violence, to deter them from participating in politics,” said Congresswoman Omar. “It is true here in the United States and around the world, and this phenomenon is especially acute for women from marginalized communities. The United States should be leading a global effort to increase women’s participation in political life, and hold opponents of women’s political rights accountable. I am proud to join my colleague Rep. Rashida Tlaib in doing just that.”
“I’m proud to join Representative Tlaib in introducing this resolution to acknowledge what so many of us know all too well: violence against women is a systemic problem that also uniquely harms women in politics, especially women of color,” said Congresswoman Cori Bush. “Since coming to Congress, I have received countless death threats, endured endless microaggressions and frequent veiled attacks — even by my own colleagues. All of those have only strengthened my resolve. I am more committed than ever to ensure that women — Black women in particular — are not only empowered to join civic life, but are also protected when they do make the courageous decision to actively participate in political life.”
Organizations who have led national and global efforts to address violence against women in politics, including The National Democratic Institute (NDI), welcomed the resolution’s introduction.
“The National Democratic Institute (NDI) is grateful for this resolution condemning the global phenomenon of violence against women in politics, and for the support of women in Congress for NDI’s #NotTheCost campaign to address the issue. NDI also appreciates that the new US National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality recognizes that violence against women and girls in politics and public life is a pressing democratic challenge, and that the Strategy includes a commitment to enabling safe environments for everyone to be politically-active,” said a statement from NDI.