Pelosi: Women Were 'Starved,' 'Force-Fed,' 'Could Barely Speak in Their Homes'

By Susan Jones | August 29, 2014 | 6:10 AM EDT

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

( - Victims then, and victims now: American women were not "given" the right to vote. They had to fight for it, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a conference call on Thursday.

"It was a struggle all the way," she said. "Women marched. Women starved. Women were starved. Women were force-fed. Women could barely speak up in their own homes.

"Women left their homes to take the message. And it was successful, and the right to vote, again, so precious, so hard fought...We hope women will continue to exercise forcefully, because then all of the issues we care about, whether it's equal pay for equal work, paid sick leave, affordable quality child care, raising the minimum wage, women's health and -- and safety issues will all be well-served."

The point of the conference call was to promote the Democrats' agenda, dubbed "When Women Succeed, America Succeeds." Democrats aim to win the female vote by casting women as victims who -- 94 years after the 19th Amendment was ratified -- are still in need of government help.

For example, Democrats insist that women generally are paid less than men for doing the same work.

"Our first priority is ensuring women earn equal pay for equal work," Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) told the conference call. "Second, we must enact paid sick leave," she said. "Third, it's time to assure affordable, reliable child care is accessible to all families."

Matsui said other priorities include strengthening the Violence Against Women Act; and expanding women's access to free birth control, a new Obamacare entitlement.

Pelosi talked about giving women "freedom" from "oppressive student loans." She also suggested that women should not have to worry about their children when they are working:

"The missing link in the evolution of women in the work place in society has been affordable, quality child care. So if you're entrepreneur and you want to start your own business or you want to be in a work situation where you can not have to worry about family as you try to do your job, all of it comes back to quality, affordable child care, which, by the way, is the best thing we can do for our children, for our country, and for our future."

As Politico reported on Thursday, a survey commissioned by two Republican groups shows female voters view the Republican Party as "intolerant,” “lacking in compassion” and “stuck in the past.”

"Women are 'barely receptive' to Republicans’ policies, and the party does 'especially poorly' with women in the Northeast and Midwest, according to an internal Crossroads GPS and American Action Network report," Politico said.

The report concluded that 49 percent of women view Republicans unfavorably, while 39 percent view Democrats unfavorably.

"I don't think either party can do a victory lap here," Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus told MSNBC's Chuck Todd on Thursday.  

Priebus said the point of the survey was to show Republican lawmakers "that if you present your plans and you present the solutions to problems that relate to the economy, which is the number one issue, and you push back on what the Democrats are selling out there in the field, you can actually win women over. I mean, that was the entire point of the poll."