Loretta Sánchez

International Women's Day Women's Freedom Forum - March 4, 2017

Loretta Sánchez
March 04, 2015
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It’s great to see you all here and to have you once again in the Capitol of the United States. It’s important for my colleagues to see you here. Half of the battle that we have in any place is that we be seen. And you know that because even though there are more women in the world than men, they tend not to see us. They tend not to see us. And it is only until we have those brave women who rise and who say, “No more. I am here. You have got to hear me. You have got to see me.” And usually it is at very personal risk that men actually begin to see us.

Now the men who are in the room today, of course they are the enlightened ones. We call them enlightened because they wouldn’t be here if they didn’t understand that this is a cooperative situation together between men and women, but we women must not only ask for a place at the decision making table, but we must take the responsibility to be ready and to take that place. It’s one thing for us to scream and yell and say, “You never listen to us. You don’t let us be there.” It’s another to take the full responsibility of getting to the table and of leading, because it’s easy to follow and most of the world wants to follow. I mean look at some of these crazy leaders, and people are following them. It’s easier to follow than it is to lead. And so it’s important that women want to lead and that we have forums to lead and that we talk to each other and inspire each other to lead. So women and leadership; a key to defeating extremism.

In a world where we see more and more the silos, you know, I was talking to somebody and I said, “It used to be when I was growing up that we would get news from one source.” That guy was Walter Cronkite. I know, many of you are too young to know. There was only one or two TV channels, not the 2,000 we have today. Okay? And the same guy was there and we got our news from one guy, so all of the United States got its news in one way. And then we went to these three channels with Tom Brokaw and we had Peter Jennings—notice always men. Peter Jennings and we had, we had these guys, Dan Rather, and it was ABC and NBC and CBS. At the same time families would come home from work, would sit down, kids would sit down, parents would watch, and pretty much we got the same- we had journalists, real journalists who would give us the news and pretty much we got the same news. But not today, because see, we went from being one hour at 6PM, then we went to, okay, well, some people couldn’t get home at 6PM, so they got home at 11, and so they passed the news, but the same news again at 11PM. We were all watching the same thing and getting our news in the same way. Then it wasn’t enough.

Somebody came up with Cable Network News, CNN, then it was news 24/7, all the time, all the time, all the time. So they had to start making things up in order to have news for us. I’m getting to my point, but just think about what’s going on. And then we had 20 opinions going on the news, it was no longer news. It was just opinions, somebody telling us what to think. Right? So that they did headline news, 15 minutes loop, sometimes they’d play one same loop over every 15 minutes until something new came in, right? And it was headline news, it was one 15 min- you could figure out what was going on for the day. Right? You didn’t have to listen to all the sensationalism, “Oh, this guy’s robbing the bank.” And then go over and talk to his girlfriend, “Well, what size shoe do you wear?” You know, I mean they were trying to fill on CNN, but then we had headline news, just 15 minutes. Now headline news has something like Nancy Grace, you know, all opinion and everything’s opinion. My husband and I were laughing. You know, you can’t find news on headline news. You can’t find singing and things on MTV, on music TV, you know, you can’t find history on the History Channel. You can’t- you know, so everything’s mixed up. But what is important to note is that everybody is picking their channel and so they are (listening)—if you’re a FOX news person, you’re listening to FOX and FOX is telling you and you’re telling them and you’re telling them and they’re telling you, and your world is this small. Right?

… Everybody’s talking the same language and it’s completely different than what is happening over at MSNBC where you know, these people are watching just this one channel and they’re listening to it, and so we are growing silos in our own nation. And but when we do that, people don’t get their information in the same way, in an unbiased way. They’re getting opinion. Opinion one way back and forth and this creates division and extremism. We have it here in the United States, right? We have it here. So we not only have it in our daily lives, but we have extremism when we look at all these changes going on in the world. The Middle East, it’s a mess. It’s a mess of extremism, because they’re doing the same thing. Only seeing the world in one way.

So who better than women to stop this extremism and I will tell you why. How many of you have children? How many of you have more than one child? Okay, so you as a woman understand that you must speak to your children and deal with your children in a different way. My mother always says a very famous thing in Spanish is, “[Spanish quote]. Every mind is its own world.” So as a mother you know—my mother had seven, okay? So you know that in order to move your child in the direction you have to move them, you move them each in a different way. You cannot send the same message to seven children and expect that they will all do what you want them to do. Right? Each is motivated- same kids in the family. My sister’s a Congresswoman. You cannot talk to her the way you talk to me. And my mother knew that. And a mother knows that. And a woman knows that. So if we want to move people in the same direction in a positive manner, it takes a woman.

Guys, I love you, but you were moved by women. You were moved by your mother, you are moved by your wife, you are moved by your daughters. I’ve met so many men who thought women shouldn’t be in the workplace when I was competing with them for a job, but the minute they had a daughter, all of that broke down. Right? So we are moved by women. Women are the answer to extremism, because we can move in a positive way people who see the world in a different way together. This is why your movement, and I call it a movement, is important. It is important.

Here in Washington, D.C. we’ve been working on many ways in which we can move in a positive way. One, it’s never just military force that we have to use to get rid of extremism. Alright? The most effective things we’ve done in Afghanistan, in Iraq as a nation is to have women in the armed forces who would go out and get more information about what was needed on the ground and what was going on in villages and towns by women soldiers who could meet with the women. The women could never go and meet with the men soldiers. And even if they had, they probably would have understood each other as well. And yet we put women in and they went and they would get a lot more “chismes”, as we say in Spanish and Patti knows “chismes”, gossip, rumors, what’s really going on, women know. They know it in their

So we have really pushed to have women in the mix, not only in our military, but in our thinking, in our policy, in our planning, to work through and to defeat extremism just as you are a force to defeat the lack of human rights that we have fought so much. For example, in Iran or that the Afghan women who are in the Parliament come and say, “Help us some more.” Or when I go to Burma … now and we see and we need to get women involved. I represent the largest Vietnamese-American- Vietnamese community outside of Vietnam in the world and it is women that we are training. Hillary Clinton understood. Patti, she understood when she went to Beijing so many years ago when she said the education of women and the push of having women at the table and in leadership is what will make our world safer. She understood and we learn from that and we have been disciples of going out and reaching across to women to get the job done. Now it doesn’t mean that we discount men, because you know, we can move you in very positive ways and you are very important to the equation, but women, women must have a voice.

So thank you for what you do, because it’s not just about getting you to the table, about getting you there, but it’s about having you prepared, prepared and willing, willing to take the responsibility of what leadership really is. This is my hope. When we see movement and we will see it. It will come, especially in the Middle East and so many of these countries that are just so wrong. Iran right now, I mean we, one of the biggest things we had this week was about what’s going on in Iran and the threat of that government to us. Us, the United States. Us, the world. Us, the Middle East, everybody. And change will come and when change comes women have to be ready to jump in the void and take the responsibility of leading. So thank you for being here. Thank you for developing leadership, thank you. Thank you for supporting women like me who must make a dent in the thoughts and the policies of the United States. Thank you for what you do.