On March 11, 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls. In his announcement he shared some sobering statistics:
"But at the same time, when women still earn just 78 cents for every dollar men make, when one in four women still experiences domestic violence in their lifetimes, when women are more than half of our population but just 17% of our Congress," he said before signing the order. "When women are 49% of the workforce but only 3% of our fortune 500 CEOs, when these inequalities stubbornly persist in this country in this century then I think we need to ask ourselves some hard question and we need to take a hard look at where were falling short and who were leaving out and what that means for the prosperity and the vitality of our nation."
Because the council had a mission to examine federal level programs that touch women and girls, one of the tasks of the council was to compile and issue the first comprehensive look at the status of women in America since the Kennedy administration released a similar report in 1963, Women in America.
Looking at what the council is focusing on, I can see that one of the stumbling blocks the administration is trying to knock down is recognizing that some of these issues are not necessarily unique to women and the repercussions go beyond the individual. When a women doesn't get equal pay, or a fair maternity leave, or access to child care it affects her entire family.
*Improving women’s economic security by ensuring that each of the agencies is working to directly improve the economic status of women.
*Working with each agency to ensure that the administration evaluates and develops policies that establish a balance between work and family.
*Working hand-in-hand with the Vice President, the Justice Department’s Office of Violence Against Women and other government officials to find new ways to prevent violence against women, at home and abroad.
*Finally, the critical work of the Council will be to help build healthy families and improve women’s health care.
Here is Jarret discussing how the economic recovery we are starting to see is being kinder to men than women last week at the Women in the World summit in New York.
A few of the highlights of what the council has been doing:
This past labor day, the White House celebrated working women.
The Justice Department is taking an aggressive approach to stopping human trafficking and has prosecuted more cases than ever before. Check the link for more ways the Civil Rights Division is working to protect the rights of women and girls.
I love Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" program and all that it is doing to fight the epidemic of childhood obesity. Last fall the First Lady announced that one of the country’s leading pediatricians, Judith S. Palfrey, M.D.would become executive director of the program.I am proud of our President and what he and the administration are doing for women and girls.
First Lady Michelle Obama joins students for a "Let's Move!" Salad Bars to Schools launch event at Riverside Elementary School in Miami, Fla., Nov. 22, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Barack Obama talks with members of the American Legion Auxiliary’s Girls Nation in the East Room of the White House, July 23, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama talks with Erika DeBenedictis, 18, a student at Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico, during an unscheduled tour of auxiliary exhibits in the East Garden Room of the White House following the White House Science Fair, Oct. 18, 2010. DeBenedictis won the top award in the Intel Science Talent Search for developing a software navigation system to improve spacecraft travel through the solar system. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama laughs with Elizabeth Cushman Titus Putnam, a winner of the 2010 Presidential Citizens Medal, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Aug. 4, 2010, honoring the 13 recipients of the nation’s second-highest civilian honor. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
It may seem as if I left out one of the biggest threats to women today, the Republicans desire to take away women's reproductive rights, right to choose, and access to adequate health care. Entire diaries have and are being written about the War on Women, please check them out!
President Barack Obama signs Elena Kagan's commission in the Oval Office, before a reception in the East Room celebrating her confirmation to the Supreme Court, Aug. 6, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
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