President Barack Obama signed an executive order today creating a White House Council for Women and Girls to focus the federal government’s efforts on advancing the interests of a group that has long done less well than men by a number of measures.
On hand for Obama’s announcement were the WNBA’s Donna Oreander and Lisa Leslie along with Olympic gymnast and Women’s Sports Foundation member Dominique Dawes.
Obama paid poignant tributes to the grandmother who raised him and his mother who died of cancer, at the launch of a high-level forum to advise him on women’s issues. Obama also held up the life story of his wife and “rock” Michelle and the example of his foe turned ally, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as he signed the executive order .
“The purpose of this Council is to ensure that American women and girls are treated fairly in all matters of public policy,” Obama said.
“I sign this order not just as a president, but as a son, a grandson, a husband and a father,” Obama said.
He cited the example of his mother, Ann Dunham, who educated herself even while she worried about paying the bills and cared for Obama and his sister as a single parent.
Obama also recalled the example of his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who worked hard in the corporate world, but then hit a glass ceiling and saw less qualified men get jobs ahead of her.
“I’ve seen Michelle, the rock of the Obama family, juggling work and parenting with more skill and grace than anybody that I know,” he said.
“I had the privilege of participating in a historic campaign with a historic candidate who we now have the privilege of calling Madam Secretary.”
The new council will work to ensure each government agency is directly orientated to improving the economic status of women and to try to frame policies that establish a balance between work and family.
It will also work with the vice president’s office and the Justice Department to seek ways to halt violence against women in the United States and abroad, and work to improve women’s healthcare.
Now, if we can only elect a woman president!