Ex-Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro praised the Nevada Women's Fund on Wednesday for using their resources to help young women overcome adversity in the same way Barack Obama beat long odds to become his party's presidential nominee.
"I want a fairer country for women and girls - black, white, yellow or brown, I don't care what color. And I'm not going to stop pushing. You women are empowered to help make that happen," Ferraro told about 1,000 people at the nonprofit group's 17th annual "Salute to Women of Achievement."
"Last year at this time, when Sen. Obama announced for the presidency, people white and black alike said, `You can't do it. This country is not ready for a black man to be nominated president of the United States,"' she said.
"Well he said, `Yes we can.' And he didn't wait for someone to give it to him, he worked hard and he earned the nomination," said the former New York congresswoman who became the first woman on a major party's presidential ticket as Walter Mondale's running mate in 1984.
"And now today, the Nevada Women's Fund and your honorees' devotion to fairness, you are also saying, `Yes we can.' And I have no doubt that together, we will be successful."
It was one of the few political references Ferraro made in her keynote address to the group that was founded in 1982 and works to promote women through grants to organizations and scholarships to individual women to complete their education.
Ferraro, 72, said everyone she meets asks how she is doing since she went public nearly 10 years ago with her battle with a rare blood cancer, multiple myenoma. Actually, everyone older than 30 asks her that, she said in correcting herself.
"If they're younger than 30, they don't remember the 1984 campaign. They ask me how to spell my name," she said.
Ferraro said access to education is the single most important part of the group's mission. She recalled that when she graduated from high school in a single-parent home in the Bronx, her own mother struggled to find a way to pay for her to go to college.
Ferraro said an uncle chimed in, "Why bother? She's pretty. She'll get married."
But she said her mother's response was something she'll never forget:
"If you educate a boy, you educate one boy. If you educate a girl, you educate a family."
Ferraro said it helped convince her that the education of young women can help break any cycle of poverty.