Hillary Clinton joined a handful of female lawmakers on Thursday in urging women to vote.
Speaking at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank in Washington, D.C., the former secretary of state joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and others who want women to cast ballots for lawmakers who support paid sick leave, affordable childcare and a higher minimum wage.
Such policies, they said, would bolster the entire economy and allow women to participate in the workforce. Female voters, especially single women, gave President Obama an edge in both of his presidential campaigns and Democrats are looking to make sure they don't stay home during the 2014 midterms.
"We don't do enough to give women the support they need to be empowered," Clinton said, echoing a sentiment she has expressed for decades.
Clinton did not address the prospect of women casting ballots for her in 2016, as she has been coy about revealing her intentions to run for president. Instead, she said she was speaking at the event to support her former Congressional colleagues. But recent polling in Iowa suggests she is an early frontrunner among female voters, with Clinton gaining the support of 63 percent of registered female Democrats compared to Vice President Joe Biden's, another possible contender, 10 percent.
She said President Obama "deserves enormous credit" for stemming the economic crisis in 2008, but said Congress needs to pass policies that allow people, particularly low-income women, to take advantage of job opportunities.
She disputed the idea that flexible workplace policies such as paid sick leave and time off after having a baby, run counter to productivity.
"The reality cannot be ignored," she said. "Unfortunately, reality is not always the context in which these decisions are made."
Pelosi, too, urged women to cast ballots.
"If women vote," she said, "women will succeed."
Pelosi pointed out that countries like Japan have made strides in getting more women into top political positions and said policies like affordable childcare are critical to the country's ability to compete on a global playing field.
She said the best thing the country can do for the economy is "unleash the power of women."
Gillibrand, who replaced Clinton in the Senate after she was confirmed as secretary of state, said American workplace policies are "stuck in the Mad Men-era," and that they create an "artificial drag" on the economy by preventing women from climbing the career ladder because of a lack of childcare and paid leave opportunities.
Gillibrand said the country needs a "Rosie the Riveter" movement, referencing the period during World War II when women worked in factories to keep the country's economy chugging—a sentiment Clinton agreed with.
Empowering women, Clinton said, is "not just about an election. It's about a movement."
Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.