Squad and Jackie Speier unveil resolution urging action to mitigate violence against female politicians
The Squad press conference (screengrab)

Five congresswomen—including the four progressive freshmen known collectively as the Squad—came together Thursday to introduce a House resolution urging the federal government to "adopt policies that promote women's political participation and mitigate violence against women in politics, in person and online, in the United States and abroad."

The resolution (pdf) recognizes that women are underrepresented in politics worldwide and violence against women in politics is a global phenomenon. It also highlights the findings of various reports from the past few years and calls for further research "to examine the extent and effects of such violence in the United States."

In a joint statement announcing the resolution, some of its sponsors shared their firsthand experiences—including Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who spearheaded this effort after garnering international attention earlier this year for addressing the issue of violence against female politicians on the House floor.

"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," Tlaib said Thursday.

"We so often hear the future is female—and I introduce this resolution as a means of securing it," she explained. "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."

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) said that "as women in politics—and women of color—we are all too familiar with the vitriol and threats of violence that come with claiming our rightful place in the world... But these attempts to intimidate and debase us because of our gender only strengthen our resolve in pursuit of justice."

"Our foremothers—the trailblazing women elected to Congress before us—equipped us to take on a world that was built on contradictions and injustice, and to declare that we have every right to do our jobs and represent our communities without fearing for our safety," Pressley added. "This resolution affirms that right for us, and for every little girl who aspires to one day take her rightful place alongside us in the halls of power."

Other sponsors of the resolution include fellow Squad members Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) as well as Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), a former state lawmaker who has spent her past 12 years in Congress fighting for women's equality.

"When I introduced legislation in California to crack down on those who weren't paying child support, I received death threats that required me to be moved into protective custody as a widowed mother with my young son and toddler daughter and wear a bulletproof vest," Speier said. "In Congress, when I took on the Marines United Facebook group which circulated private, intimate images of women servicemembers, I found a deluge of doctored images of me beaten and bruised with a black eye."

"Each of my colleagues has experienced this form of weaponized sexism, whether it be death or rape threats, shootings, sexual harassment, verbal assaults, or worse," added Speier, who co-chairs the Democratic Women's Caucus.

These threats and attacks that female politicians so often endure, Omar noted, "have long-term effects of deterring women from entering public service."

Undeterred, Speier declared that "we're right where we belong and we're not going anywhere. It's on each of us to call out this violence as we see it, to urge social media platforms to immediately take down harmful content, and to demand more and better for ourselves and our colleagues."

Organizations supporting the resolution include the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) and National Democratic Institute (NDI), which in 2016 launched the #NotTheCost campaign.

"Preventing violence against women in elected office is a crucial first step to open more pathways for women to succeed in politics," said LWVUS senior manager of policy and legislative affairs Jessica Jones Capparell. "We need to do more than just talk about these inhumane occurrences and this resolution is the first step in eliminating this injustice and improving the political system for all of us."