Council on Women and Girls Blog

  • Combating Human Trafficking in Supply Chains

    Secretary Kerry Delivers Remarks at the White House Forum on Combating Human Trafficking

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks at the White House Forum on Combating Human Trafficking in Supply Chains at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on January 29, 2015. (State Department photo / Public Domain)

    January marks National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. As we take this time to reflect, we know that human trafficking can take many forms, including labor trafficking, and President Obama feels strongly that it has no place in our business, at home or abroad. 

    That is why today, at the White House, we hosted a forum dedicated to combating human trafficking in supply chains. The event brought together leaders from the private sector, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the federal government to talk about what we can do together to prevent and eliminate any instances of trafficking-related activities in federal contracts and in private sector supply chains.

    Today’s Forum was part of President Obama’s sustained commitment to the ambitious agenda that he laid out in September 2012 to combat human trafficking. This year, the Administration will focus in particular on human trafficking issues in supply chains. The President spoke about this issue earlier this week at the U.S.-India Business Council Summit, where he stressed the need to “keep striving to protect the rights of our workers; to make sure that our supply chains are sourced responsibly.”

  • Marking the First Anniversary of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault

    Last week marked the first anniversary of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault (the Task Force), established by President Obama on January 22, 2014. Since its inception, the Task Force has worked to explore the scope of this serious problem, foster the development of best practices, and improve the federal government’s efforts to prevent and effectively respond to sexual assault on our nation’s campuses. 

    On April 29, 2014, Vice President Biden released the Task Force’s first reportNot Alone – which included recommendations, action steps, and sample policy language to help colleges and universities better address the problem. Three additional resources with sample policy language – Definitions of key terms in sexual misconduct policies, Role of the Title IX Coordinator, and Interim and supportive measures for victims – were released on September 19, 2014, in conjunction with the White House’s announcement of It’s On Us – a new public awareness campaign and cultural movement aimed at fundamentally shifting the way we think about sexual assault.

    The Task Force recognizes that developing strong partnerships between law enforcement agencies, campus administrations, and other community stakeholders is important to sexual assault prevention and response efforts­. To that end, the Task Force is pleased to share a sample memorandum of understanding (MOU), created to improve communication and coordination between campuses and local law enforcement. The MOU is a tool that colleges and universities can use and adapt as they seek to strengthen collaborations, enhance prevention efforts, and address the needs and choices of survivors of sexual assault. 

    As the Task Force enters its second year, we look forward to working with people across the spectrum of campus life in the fight to end sexual assault on our nation’s college campuses. We know that it’s on us – all of us – to step up, take action, and protect our nation’s students.

    More information on the sample MOU can be found here.

    Tina Tchen is the Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

  • Great Strides for Women’s Health Under the Affordable Care Act

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on The Huffington Post. See the original post here.

    President Obama has said repeatedly that “when women succeed, America succeeds.” And over the past year, millions of women have gained the security of knowing that their professional, academic, financial, and personal dreams will not be put in jeopardy if they face a health challenge. Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) released a report detailing the important strides we have made in women’s health as a result of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). 

    Up until last year, insurance companies could — and often did — charge women different premiums than men for the same coverage. As of January 1, 2014, the ACA prohibits this gender discrimination. In part because of improved options and affordability, today’s report outlines a significant 5.5 percentage point decline in the uninsured rate among women between the ages of 18 and 64 since 2013. And as more and more women take advantage of the Open Enrollment period that ends February 15, 2015, and sign up for affordable private health insurance, that number will continue to drop.

  • Expanding Opportunity and Addressing Unique Challenges Facing Women and Girls of Color

    When President Obama founded the White House Council on Women and Girls (CWG) within the first two months of taking office, he charged us with working to address inequalities and barriers facing women and girls in our schools, workplaces, and throughout American life. And as women’s role in society and our economy continues to evolve and grow, so too has the importance of ensuring that all women and girls succeed, including women and girls of color who often face compounded disparities.

    A CWG report released yesterday delves into the inequities and distinct challenges facing women of color, while examining some of the efforts underway to close unfair gaps in educational outcomes, pay, career opportunity, health disparities, and more.

    Since its inception, the CWG has focused on issues which disproportionately affect women of color. As part of this ongoing effort, the CWG is convening a Working Group to bring together policy staff from the White House and across the federal agencies, with advocates and experts from around the country. Together, this group will focus on issues including education, economic security, health, criminal and juvenile justice, violence, and research and data collection. By detailing both the progress we have made and the challenges that still remain, this report should serve both as a reminder of what is possible and as a call to action to do so much more.

  • Ensuring Economic Equality and Opportunity for Women and America’s Working Families

    President Barack Obama holds a women's roundtable discussion prior to remarks on the economy at Rhode Island College in Providence, Rhode Island, Oct. 31, 2014. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez attends at right.

    President Barack Obama holds a women's roundtable discussion prior to remarks on the economy at Rhode Island College in Providence, Rhode Island, Oct. 31, 2014. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez attends at right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Last week, in Providence, President Obama delivered remarks on the importance of empowering women and girls in our economy. “When women succeed, America succeeds, and we need leaders who understand that,” he told the audience at Rhode Island College (RIC).

    But before delivering those remarks, I had the pleasure of joining the President and Labor Secretary Tom Perez, for a roundtable with the President of Rhode Island College, local woman business owners, working moms, and an RIC student to discuss what we need to do to ensure that 21st century workplaces meet the needs of our 21st century workforce -- which is increasingly being led by women.

  • The Power of Pink: Raising Awareness for Breast Cancer

    The North Portico exterior of the White House is illuminated pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Oct. 15, 2014

    The North Portico exterior of the White House is illuminated pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Oct. 15, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    The painful reality is that whether it’s our mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters or friends, breast cancer will touch the vast majority of our lives in some way, and it is up to each of us to make sure that we, and our loved ones, remain vigilant about scheduling regular breast exams. Early detection can help save lives, which is why President Obama ensured that the Affordable Care Act provides preventive care for women without a co-pays, and why the White House is making a point again this Breast Cancer Awareness Month to elevate this issue. 

    Today, Dr. Jill Biden hosted a conference call with women from around the country on how the Affordable Care Act is helping to combat breast cancer. And tonight, in keeping with an annual tradition to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the North Portico of the White House, as well as the Vice President’s residence at the Naval Observatory, are lit pink to honor those battling the disease, those we’ve lost, their families, and the survivors who are often the first to remind us that survival is not only possible, but highly probable for most women when the disease is detected early and addressed with proper care. Every woman is different, so it’s important to speak with your health care provider about the breast cancer screening schedule and tools that are most appropriate.