Council on Women and Girls Blog

  • White House Announces Judges for Equal Futures App Challenge

    (Picture drawn by Abigail Dabu, Age 14)

    “…I would like to run for some political office when I grow up.  Why?  Because there are so many changes that need to be made regarding important issues that are not happening.  And we need more women making decisions in our country!” --  Meera Kota, Age 15

    “This week, the United States signed a new Declaration on Women’s Participation. Next year, we should each announce the steps we are taking to break down economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls. That is what our commitment to human progress demands.” -- President Barack Obama,  September 21, 2011

    Building on President Obama’s challenge at the UN General Assembly in September 2011, the United States will be working with countries around the world as part of a new international effort – the Equal Futures Partnership – to politically and economically empower women in each of our countries.   

    Among the United States’ commitments through this partnership are new efforts to promote civic education and public leadership for girls, including the launch of an Equal Futures App Challenge earlier this year: to create an app that promotes civic education and/or inspires girls to serve as leaders in our democracy.

    Today we are pleased to announce that the following leaders have signed on to act as judges:

    ·      Representative Barbara Ballard
    ·      Anna Maria Chavez, CEO, Girl Scouts
    ·      Geena Davis, Academy Award-Winning Actor; Founder, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
    ·      Jack Dorsey, Creator and Co-Founder, Twitter; Founder and CEO, Square
    ·      Tiffany Dufu, President, the White House Project
    ·      Jocelyn Goldfein, Director of Engineering, Facebook
    ·      Mayor Elizabeth Kautz
    ·      Senator Lisa Murkowski
    ·      Andrew Shue, Co-Founder,; Co-Founder,
    ·      Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis
    ·      Judy Vredenburgh, President and CEO, Girls Inc.

  • An Inclusive Vision Of Entrepreneurship

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from

    Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at the National Association of Women Business Owner’s (NAWBO) conference in Louisville. It was a chance to talk about the issues and the opportunities that women business owners and entrepreneurs face as they build innovative and successful companies across the United States.

    Forty years ago, women owned just 5 percent of all small businesses. Today, women own 30 percent, which equals a total of 7.8 million companies generating $1.2 trillion a year in sales.

    These are entrepreneurs like Rachel Carson, whose company Helicopter Tech, Inc., is selling aviation products and equipment to over 23 countries. Rachel is using SBA’s export loan products to expand her business into lucrative markets around the world. Another example is Ms. Jenny’s Pickles in North Carolina. After the market turned, Jenny Fulton partnered with her assistant, Ashlee Furr, to start their pickle business. They worked with an SBA counselor and now their products are sold in grocery stores all over the US. 

    That’s what we are focused on across the SBA. Ensuring that more small business owners and entrepreneurs have the access and opportunity they need to turn great business ideas into viable and successful businesses. And we are continuing to look for new ways to support and strengthen women small business owners and entrepreneurs. 

  • Launching the Equal Futures Partnership to Expand Women’s Political and Economic Participation

    It is no secret that the world has yet to achieve the simple yet profound goal of ensuring equal futures for our daughters and our sons. Today, less than five percent of the world’s heads of state are women, and women make up just nineteen percent of representatives in parliaments worldwide. Despite producing more than forty percent of the world’s food, women own less than one percent of the world’s farmland. 

    Recognizing these disparities, one year ago in a speech before the UN General Assembly, President Obama challenged heads of state to break down political and economic barriers to women’s equality.  Last week, Secretary Clinton launched a groundbreaking response to the President’s challenge: the Equal Futures Partnership. The United States was joined by twelve other founding members (Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, the Netherlands, Peru, Senegal and Tunisia, along with the EU) each of whom made national commitments to policy, legal, and regulatory reforms that would promote two mutually reinforcing goals: expanded economic opportunity for women; and, increased political and civic participation by women at local, state and national levels. Around 250 guests -- including Senator Patrick Leahy, President Jahjaga of Kosovo, Prime Minister Simpson-Miller of Jamaica, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, academic leaders, CEOs of major companies, and representatives from civil society organizations -- attended the standing-room only event.

  • White House Equal Futures App Challenge to Promote Civic Education and Public Leadership for Girls

    “This week, the United States signed a new Declaration on Women’s Participation. Next year, we should each announce the steps we are taking to break down economic and political barriers that stand in the way of women and girls. That is what our commitment to human progress demands.”

     President Obama’s Address to the United Nations General Assembly, September 21, 2011

    Building on President Obama’s challenge at the UN General Assembly in September 2011, the United States will be working with various country partners in a new international effort – the Equal Futures Partnership – to break down barriers to women’s political participation and economic empowerment. The goal of the Equal Futures Partnership is for each member country to expand opportunities for women and girls to fully participate in public life and to drive more inclusive economic growth.

    As part of these efforts, the White House Council on Women and Girls is launching an app challenge: to create an app that promotes civic education and/or inspires girls to serve as leaders in our democracy.  Notable apps will be highlighted on the White House website and in the White House blog.

    Apps should accomplish one or more of the following:

    1. Educate girls about the gender gap in public leadership using existing, publicly-available information (e.g. properly attributed data from websites such as that of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, etc.) 
    2. Connect girls with role models by highlighting women in public leadership positions 
    3. Teach girls about what it means to be an effective leader 
    4. Empower girls to engage with their elected representatives 
    5. Prepare girls to serve in government and run for office themselves

    Individuals can learn more about the challenge and submit their apps on between September 25, 2012 at 12:00am EDT and January 12, 2013 at 12:00am EDT. 

  • African American Women's Forum

    Today, the White House hosted an African American Women’s Forum, bringing women from across the nation together for an opportunity to discuss issues that are important to women in the African American community.  First Lady Michelle Obama surprised guests to provide some of her thoughts on the theme, “Mother, Sister, Daughter, Leader,” an idea she fully embodies.

    Many topics were discussed including education and college affordability.  One of the panels at the forum focused on the Affordable Care Act and how it will affect African American women. The Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, discussed the importance of prevention for women and emphasized this point by leading the group in an exercise activity! Jocelyn Frye, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Policy and Projects for the First Lady, provided insight on current and future projects Mrs. Obama is working on, and Deputy Adminstrator Marie Johns led a panel on the economy and education. Gene Sperling, Assistant to the President and Director of the National Economic Council, analyzed the current economic status of African American Women in the United States and shared his plan to enact more meaningful fiscal change in the community as a whole.

    Heather Foster is an Associate Director for the Office of Public Engagement.

  • Join the Conversation: STEM Master Teacher Corps

    This Thursday, July 26th, at 1 p.m. EDT, Obama Administration officials will host a conversation on the creation of a new national Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Master Teacher Corps – a networked community of talented educators serving as a national resource committed to advancing STEM teaching and learning.

    Launched last week, the STEM Master Teacher Corps initiative will strengthen the quality of STEM education nation-wide and help meet the President’s goal of moving U.S. students from the middle to the top of the pack in math and science.

    Starting with 50 teachers in each of 50 sites, the STEM Master Teacher Corps will eventually expand to 10,000 educators across the country, who will make a multi-year commitment to deepening their subject matter expertise, mentoring other teachers, and building a community of practice where they live and teach.  In exchange, Master Teachers will receive recognition and rewards, including additional compensation, for their work as a Corps member.