Obama on the Record: White House Council on Women and Girls - Page 2 of 5

Obama on the Record: White House Council on Women and Girls

women’s issues. When women make less than men for the same work, it hurts families who find themselves with less income, and have to work harder just to get by. When a job doesn’t offer family leave, that also hurts men who want to help care for a new baby or an ailing parent. When there’s no affordable child care, that hurts children who wind up in second-rate care, or spending afternoons alone in front of the television set.

And when any of our citizens cannot fulfill their potential because of factors that have nothing to do with their talent, their character, their work ethic, that says something about the state of our democracy. It says something about whether we’re honoring those words put on paper more than two centuries ago — whether we’re doing our part, like generations before us, to breathe new life into them in our time.

That, above all, is the true purpose of our government. Not to guarantee our success, but to ensure that in America, all things are still possible for all people. Not to solve all our problems, but to ensure that we all have the chance to pursue our own version of happiness. To give our daughters the chance to achieve as greatly as the women who join us today. That’s the impact our government can have.

It’s the impact of a Health and Human Services Department that funds research by women like Dr. Nina Fedoroff, a biotechnology and life science pioneer — (applause) — who won the National Medal of Science in 2006. It’s the impact of a Defense Department that works to recruit and promote women — women, so that women like Sergeant Major Michele Jones, who was the Army’s highest ranking enlisted woman before she retired, can strengthen our military with their leadership. (Applause.)

It’s the impact of a Department of Education that enforces Title IX, so athletes like — (applause) — so athletes like Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes and Lisa Leslie — (applause) — have a level playing field to compete and to win. It’s the impact of a White House and a Congress that fight for legislation like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, so that all women can get paid what they deserve. (Applause.) I’m very proud this was the very first bill that I signed into law.

And that’s why I’m establishing this Council — not just to continue efforts like these, but to enhance them. The Council will be composed of the heads of every Cabinet and Cabinet-level agency, and will meet on a regular basis. We have many of those Cabinet members here. Some of the men showed up — we put them in the second row. (Laughter.) But they’re going to be fighting — (applause) — they’re going to be part of this Council, and it’s going to meet on a regular basis.

Its purpose is very simple: to ensure that each of the agencies in which they’re charged takes into account the needs of women and girls in the policies they draft, the programs they create,