Council on Women and Girls Blog

  • Advancing Women's Potential Around the World

    Ed. note: On March 11, 2009, President Obama established the inter-agency White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure the programs and policies of the federal government are being crafted and implemented with the wellbeing of our women and girls at the forefront of our thinking and priorities. This post is part of a month-long series highlighting government-wide progress toward that goal. Read more posts here.

    Last spring, I visited Burma for the first time and met Dr. Aye Aye Mu. She is dedicating her life to serving vulnerable women and children by working closely with individual doctors to improve the equality and accessibility of their life-saving care.

    In a country where 35 percent of all children suffer from stunting, Dr. Aye Aye’s work has saved countless lives. Last year alone, she conducted over 5,000 reproductive health consultations and treated more than 250 cases of tuberculosis. An innovative and dedicated physician, Dr. Aye Aye Mu embodies our Agency’s commitment to ensuring that everyone everywhere enjoys the opportunity to live to her full potential.

    From Burma to Afghanistan to Senegal, I have seen the profound impact that our investments in women and girls can have—from empowering women during political transitions to helping end the outrage of child death. If we are going to truly achieve the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030, we cannot leave behind half of the global population. We have to invest in women and girls as champions of development who can lift their families out of extreme poverty.

    Across our projects in more than 80 countries, we are doing just that—by making evidence-based investments in gender equality and female empowerment.

  • VA and Women Veterans: “Fielding a Full Team”

    Ed. note: On March 11, 2009, President Obama established the inter-agency White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure the programs and policies of the federal government are being crafted and implemented with the wellbeing of our women and girls at the forefront of our thinking and priorities. This post is part of a month-long series highlighting government-wide progress toward that goal. Read more posts here.

    In his State of the Union Address, President Obama declared, “We are stronger when America fields a full team.” As we move to leverage the power of a fully represented “Team America,” VA is advancing the cause of our 2.2 million women veterans. 

    Women veterans are one of the fastest-growing populations of veterans. Now 10%, by 2020, they will constitute over 12% of all veterans.

    America depends on the traits veterans embody -- dependability, resourcefulness, diligence, a team focus, and a can-do attitude – to make good on the President’s efforts to re-energize our economy.  After serving our country in uniform, women veterans go on to serve our communities and our workplaces as a positive force for America’s strong and growing middle class.

  • Celebrating Women’s History Month with the White House Council on Women and Girls

    On March 11, 2009, not long after taking office, President Obama signed an Executive Order creating the inter-agency White House Council on Women and Girls (CWG), and beginning to shape his Administration’s unwavering commitment to equality and opportunity for all.  This body is made up of leaders from all the major federal agencies, and built to ensure the programs and policies of the federal government are being crafted and implemented with the wellbeing of our women and girls at the forefront of our thinking and priorities. 

    Five years later, CWG continues its steadfast commitment to ensuring the rights, security, and dignity of women in America and around the world.

    In honor of Women’s History Month, I am thrilled to kick off the CWG’s March blog series, which will highlight the wonderful progress we have made, while underscoring the work that lies ahead.  Each day this month, an Administration official will post a blog to highlight how their office is working to support CWG’s charge, and women everywhere.

  • Moms Champions

    Ed. Note: This blog is cross-posted from The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

    Do you remember?  For many of us, mom was the first—and best—health care provider we ever had.  Cleaning off a scraped knee or filling a prescription for chicken soup, mom played a vital role in our early health. Her love and attention showed us that health care was better when it was delivered with compassion. 

    Mom was always there for us and it’s something we never forget. 

    As children get older, a mother’s role changes.  No longer magically wielding thermometers or gently pulling off Band-Aids with the utmost care, a mom becomes a vital source for advice. Kids – young and old – trust mom to tell it like it is.

    As the mom of two grown boys, I know the immeasurable value of a mother’s voice. I know the feeling of wanting to help kids stay safe and healthy.

    That’s why helping moms learn about health care options for their kids is one of my top priorities.

    I want to make sure moms across the country understand the new opportunities for their families as we approach the beginning of open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

    Starting tomorrow, and continuing through March 2014, Americans that lack access to affordable coverage will be able to apply, compare plans, and enroll in the Marketplace, with  coverage beginning as early as January 1, 2014.

    These plans will cover essential services like maternity care, hospitalizations, doctor’s visits, and prescription drugs.  These plans also cap out-of-pocket costs, can’t place an annual limit on coverage, and can’t charge you more because you’re a woman or have a pre-existing condition.

    And for nearly 6 in 10 of the uninsured Americans, coverage will be available for $100 or less per month.

    The good news is that we’re not alone in trying to get the word out. Programs like text4baby, and organizations like MomsRising, and the What to Expect Foundation are committed to joining us as we begin to educate moms about the Marketplace.  We’re calling these organizations “Champions for Coverage.”

    Champions for Coverage are local businesses, organizations, bloggers, community health centers, hospitals, and faith communities. They will use publicly available materials – both digital and in print – to help members of their communities understand their new options through the Marketplace.

    I want to send my sincerest thanks to organizations like these. We always knew we couldn’t do this important work alone.

    For millions of Americans, better health care options are on the way – as long as they know to sign up.

    In Case You Missed It: View a full recap of the HealthCare.gov, Moms Rising, and text4baby #GetCovered Twitter chat .

    To see the list of Champions for Coverage visit: http://marketplace.cms.gov/help-us/champion.html.

    Learn more about the Marketplace and how to get ready to enroll at HealthCare.gov or call the Health Insurance Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325).

    Kathleen Sebelius is the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.

  • Investing In Women and Girls Is An Investment In Our Future

    Ed. Note: This blog is cross posted from The Huffington Post

    Ayo Megbope is a graduate of Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Women program, and the owner of “No Leftovers Nigeria”, a catering company and restaurant in Lagos, Nigeria. Photo provided by “Goldman Sachs | 10,000 Women”

    Ayo Megbope is a graduate of Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Women program, and the owner of “No Leftovers Nigeria”, a catering company and restaurant in Lagos, Nigeria. (by "Goldman Sachs | 10,000 Women”)

    With a broad smile, and a gleam in her eyes, Ayo Megbope sat beside me, and shared story after story about the humble beginnings of her business, cooking bean cakes in her fourth-floor apartment, wrapping them in banana leaves, and selling them throughout her community in Lagos, Nigeria.  It was September of 2009, and we were seated together at the first annual Goldman Sachs “10,000 Women” Dinner in New York City.  Ayo was one of the first graduates of the 10,000 Women program, which helps women entrepreneurs around the world obtain the training and access to capital they need to turn their business dreams into reality.

    Almost exactly four years later, I was back in New York City, forging partnerships, and working to secure new public and private sector commitments to promote the success and empowerment of women and girls.

    My first stop was to co-host a United Nations General Assembly event with Secretary of State, John Kerry, and U.S. Ambassador at Large for Global Women's Issues Cathy Russell, marking the one year anniversary of the day former Secretary Hillary Clinton and I launched the Equal Futures Partnership.  Equal Futures was developed in response to President Obama’s call at the 2011 UN General Assembly, for his fellow heads of state to join him in breaking down economic and political barriers that prevent women and girls from reaching their full potential. 

  • Ending Violence Against Women: 19 Years of Progress

    Today marks the 19th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). As the original author and champion of VAWA, Vice President Biden brought national attention to what had too-long been a hidden problem. Then-Senator Biden held the first hearing on violence against women in the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1990 and introduced the first version of the Act that same year. After five years of hearings exposing the extent of rape, battering and stalking, the Act finally passed Congress and was signed into law by President Clinton on September 13, 1994.

    The initial VAWA legislation focused on changing law enforcement practices, improving the criminal justice system, and increasing access to shelters and services for victims. VAWA strengthened the federal criminal code, creating interstate crimes of domestic violence and doubling penalties for repeat sex offenders. And, VAWA sparked the passage of hundreds of laws at the state level to protect victims and hold offenders accountable. Since 1994, VAWA has sent billions of dollars to states and local communities to develop a coordinated response to domestic violence, dating violence sexual assault, and stalking.