Expanding Opportunity and Fighting for Human Rights

Last night, I had the chance to attend a reception co-hosted by the designer and entrepreneur Tory Burch, and the Rebecca Project, a non-profit organization that works to prevent human trafficking, domestic abuse, and other acts of violence against women.

As the Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, I was honored to join so many advocates for equal rights, and equal opportunity. The reception was a reminder that so-called “women’s issues” affect all of us, men and women. When women succeed, America succeeds.

This is particularly important as our country faces the effects of the worst recession since the Great Depression. We are counting on women entrepreneurs like Tory to help drive our economic recovery.

Just as importantly, successful businesswomen can use their experience and resources to help others succeed. Today, the Tory Burch Foundation provides women small business owners with microloans. Tory also shares her experience and expertise as a founding board member of StartUp America, a public-private partnership that President Obama helped launch earlier this year, to support high-growth, early-stage companies.  By doing well and doing good, she sets an example for all business leaders. 

But last night, even as we celebrated women who are making the most of the opportunities this country holds, we took time to recognize that others are not as fortunate. Tragically, many American women are victims of violence and abuse every year. That’s why partnerships like the one between Tory Burch and the Rebecca Project are so important.

There’s no question that we face daunting challenges, as we seek a more perfect union for our country’s women and girls. But looking around the room last night, I had no doubt that, as the President has put it, “We are bigger than the challenges we face.” I’m proud to say that the Obama Administration will continue to partner with leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors, as we work toward a future where no woman is a victim, and where every woman is able to reach her full potential.

Valerie Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to the President.

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