The White House is hosting a conference Friday to highlight ways the
Obama administration has “helped create economic security for women.”
Valerie Jarrett, chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls,
opened Friday's Forum on Women and the Economy. She said President
Barack Obama has taken “historic steps” to appoint more women to key
positions and empowered them to drive policy promoting the interests of
women and girls both at home and abroad.
“Now, we all understand that so-called women's issues do not only affect
women. Women make up a majority of students in our colleges and an even
larger percentage in graduate schools. They are nearly half of the
workforce, and they're the breadwinners for a growing number of
families. So it's clear that the success of women in America is critical
to the success and sustainability of our families, of our communities
and of the national economy.”
President Obama is also speaking at the forum, which is being
accompanied by the release of a White House report on women's progress
under his administration.
Friday's conference comes at a key time for the president as he
campaigns for re-election. Recent public opinion polls have shown women
supporting Mr. Obama over Republican front-runner Mitt Romney.
Asked Thursday about the political implications of staging an event
focused on women during an election year, White House spokesman Jay
Carney dismissed the idea that the forum is political.
administration has engaged in a number of policy approaches designed to
address women in the economy, including the very first bill that the
President signed into law, the Lilly Ledbetter Act — Fair Pay Act — and
there are a variety of initiatives that this administration has put
forward that deal with issues of concern to women in particular. There
is the Violence Against Women Act. We have an office overseen by the
Vice President's office that deals with that legislation. So these are
important policy initiatives; that's why we're having the conference.”
The president created the White House Council on Women and Girls in
March of 2009. The stated mission of the council is to provide a
coordinated federal response to the challenges facing women and ensure
federal agencies pay attention to the way their policies impact women
and families. Mr. Obama said its purpose is to ensure that American
women and girls are treated fairly in all matters of public policy.