White House Hosts Forum on Women and the Economy

April 7, 2012

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.

“This 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.

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