Council on Women and Girls Blog

  • White House Forum on Women and the Economy

    President Obama Delivers Remarks at the White House Forum on Women and the Economy

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the “White House Forum on Women and the Economy” in Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium, April 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    This morning, I had the privilege of attending the White House Forum on Women and the Economy. We hosted nearly 200 women from all over the country to join in a conversation about the critical role that women play in driving our economic progress. We also released a report that details a wide range of policies, programs, and legislative initiatives under the Obama Administration that are supporting women and girls at all stages of their lives and careers. President Obama also attended the forum, and he said, “When it comes to our efforts on behalf of women and girls, I’m proud of the accomplishments we can point to. Yes, we’ve got more to do.  But there’s no doubt we have begun to make progress.” I am also proud of our accomplishments and look forward to continuing the important work we are doing to promote the interests of women and girls across the country and around the world.

    My remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below.

    Good morning.

    It is my pleasure to welcome you to our White House Forum on Women and the Economy.  I am delighted to see so many familiar faces in the audience. We have an extraordinary array of accomplished women and a few good and brave men. You represent a wide range of stakeholders from all across our country.  You are the trailblazers and innovators that drive our country, and you have the insight and vision that we need to create an economy that’s built to last. A number of you have worked closely with us throughout the last few years and deserve a lot of credit for many of our accomplishments. I’d also like to thank members of the President’s Cabinet for joining us today, and for your exceptional service. And finally, welcome to those of you who are watching online. We will stream today’s whole forum, including breakout sessions.

    I am so proud to be the chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls and to join Tina in leading this important initiative.

    When President Obama created the Council in early 2009, he said, and I quote, “It is up to us to ensure that our daughters and grand-daughters have no limits on their dreams, and no obstacles to their achievements.” His executive order ensured that the Council would include representatives of every single government agency. A first for any president. I’d like to ask all of the members of the Council who are here to stand and be recognized.

  • Watch and Engage: White House Forum on Women and the Economy

    Today, more than ever before, women are a driving force behind the success of the American economy. Expanding economic opportunities for women and ending discriminatory practices is critical to building an economy that restores security for middle class families, one where hard work and responsibility are rewarded, and where everyone who wants to can find a good job.

    This Friday, April 6th, the White House Council on Women and Girls is hosting a Forum on Women and the Economy. President Obama will deliver remarks at the Forum to highlight ways the Administration has helped create economic security for women and recognizes that women are key to economic growth and competitiveness. Starting at 8:30 a.m. EDT, the half-day forum will also include a panel discussion with Senior Administration officials, followed by breakout sessions on: Women at Work, Education, Health, Women’s Entrepreneurship, and Violence Against Women and Girls (check out the complete Forum schedule below).

    People from across the country can watch the event live at During the Forum, Administration officials will answer questions from a live audience and also take questions submitted through a form on and via Twitter with the hashtag #WomenEconForum.

    Here's how you can participate:

    • Right now, you can ask the White House your questions about women and the economy through a web form or on Twitter with the hashtag #WomenEconForum
    • On Friday, April 6th from 8:45 a.m. EDT to 12:30 p.m. EDT watch the forum live at President Obama will deliver remarks at 10:15 a.m. EDT.
    • Join the discussion live on Twitter and follow what others are saying with the hashtag #WomenEconForum
    • If you miss the live event, the full video will be posted on

    We hope you can join us. Here's the full schedule:

  • The Next Step in Combatting the Spread of HIV/AIDS Among Women and Girls

    As the Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, it is my honor to join Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy and Lynn Rosenthal, the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, in announcing the next step in President Obama’s commitment to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS amongst women and girls. Please read on for more details.

    There are approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States, including more than 290,000 women.   Black and Hispanic  women account for nearly three-quarters of new HIV infections among women.  In July 2010, President Obama launched the first National HIV/AIDS Strategy to provide a coordinated national response to fight the epidemic, with the goals of reducing new infections, improving health outcomes, and decreasing HIV-related health disparities.  This past World AIDS Day, the President said that “When black women feel forgotten, even though they account for most of the new cases among women, then we’ve got to do more."  President Obama was joined by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a call to our partners—including government stakeholders at all levels, healthcare professionals, and HIV/AIDS service providers—to unite in an effort to usher in an “AIDS-free generation.” To reach this goal, it is clear we must address HIV among women, particularly among women of color.

    As directed in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, Federal agencies are collaborating in new ways.  We are embracing scientific findings to implement evidenced-based prevention methods in order to be more effective at preventing new HIV infections, and we are exploring new approaches to integrate prevention and care. As part of this ongoing collaborative approach, President Obama has issued a presidential memorandum establishing an inter-agency working group on the intersection of HIV/AIDS, violence against women and girls, and gender-related health disparities. The President has asked Lynn Rosenthal, the White House Advisor on Violence Against Womenand Dr. Grant Colfax, the Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, to serve as co-chairs.

  • The Affordable Care Act Protects Women’s Health

    Almost two years ago, the president signed the Affordable Care Act. Today the new law is giving millions of families the security that comes with knowing their health care will be there for them when they need it. And the law is helping women address many of the challenges they have faced getting the care they need.  

    Some of these benefits will take effect over the next few years, but many of them are already helping women lead healthier lives. Senior citizens like Norma Byrne of Vineland, N.J., have already seen that the new Affordable Care Act makes prescription drugs more affordable. Norma used to have to dip into her food budget to help pay for her medications because of the so-called donut hole. In 2010, just like other senior citizens with high drug spending, she received a $250 rebate check, which helped defray those costs. In 2011, thanks to the new law, she was one of nearly 2 million women who received a 50 percent discount on their brand-name prescription drugs. 

    Read the full post at The Daily Beast

    Valerie B. Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama. She is also the Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

  • Got Questions about Women in Science, Tech, Engineering, or Math (STEM)? Tweet Us!

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from

    Jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields are high-paying, innovation-driven, and mission-essential. Yet while women have half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, 76 percent of STEM jobs are held by men. This gap has been seen throughout the past decade. We need to take a close look at the gender disparity in these fields that are so critical to completing the mission of the Department of Energy, and encourage and support women to take part in STEM positions. 

    Join us for a conversation about women in STEM on Twitter on Thursday, March 22 at 2:30pm EDT by following the hashtag #STEM.  

    You'll be able to ask experts how we can advance women's education and empowerment to bring women into STEM careers. 

  • Ask Your Question: National Equal Pay Task Force

    Since his first days in office, President Obama has pushed for pay equality between women and men in the work force.  It was just over three years ago when the President signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help combat pay discrimination by extending the period in which to make a claim.  The President is committed to securing equal pay for equal work because American families and the health of our nation’s economy depends up on it. 

    On average, women make 23 cents less on each dollar earned by their male counterpart, and this disparity grows further for women of color and women with disabilities.  This reduced salary results in lesser benefits for women and their families at a time when nearly two thirds of families depend on a female breadwinner.  The President wants to close this pay gap once and for all.

    In 2010, the President created the National Equal Pay Task Force, which brings together the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to identify and address challenges to gender pay disparities. The Task Force has worked diligently and has made significant gains.  Task Force members have increased enforcement of equal pay laws, improved efficiency and efficacy by enhancing federal inter-agency collaboration and ensured that workers are better educated on their right to equal pay while employers are better educated on how to provide it.

    We want to provide you with the opportunity to meet our Equal Pay Task Force members and ask them questions about their efforts in connection to and involvement with the Task Force. Please visit the webform and submit your question on or before March 19th, 2012 at 5pm. 

    We will share your questions with Task Force members who will answer a selection of them via video responses that will be available here on We look forward to hearing from you.

    To be sure you find out when we issue our video responses, sign up to receive email updates from the White House Council on Women and Girls.