Council on Women and Girls Blog

  • Supporting Survivors Across the Lifespan: World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, 2015

    Today, the international community unites to recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: a time to bring visibility to the issue of violence experienced by older adults, express intolerance for abuse, and work toward prevention.

    A serious human rights violation that too often goes ignored, elder abuse can include physical, psychological, or sexual abuse; neglect; and financial exploitation. Global data indicates 4 to 6% of adults over the age of 60 have experienced at least one of these types of abuse in the past month alone—a conservative estimate that amounts to 36 million cases worldwide. In a 2010 study, 1 in 10 community-residing older adults in the United States reported experiencing abuse the previous year.

    Though both women and men can experience abuse in later life, greater female longevity, coupled with women’s higher risk for poverty and social isolation, suggests that elder abuse is a gendered category of violence. In many respects, violence against older women is an extension of the same social norms that perpetuate violence against women and girls earlier in their lives: entrenched gender bias; impunity for abuse; and unhealthy conceptions of masculinity. In fact, violence by an intimate partner or spouse is a common form of elder abuse, though perpetrators can also be a caregiver outside the family, an adult child, or any other person with whom the victim has a relationship of trust.

  • Prioritization Upgrade: Expanding Diversity in Our Technology Ecosystem Now


    “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”

    — Albert Einstein


    We are excited to be out in California today to roll up our sleeves and participate in the “Diversity in Tech” workshop, hosted by the White House and the Kapor Center for Social Impact. We are here to brainstorm and strategize with innovators from throughout the technology ecosystem to learn about what's worked for employers to recruit, retain, and advance top talent from under-represented communities, and for venture capitalists to fund and advise the full range of early start-up teams. We will hear about what’s working already that could be scaled now, as well as understand where challenges need pilot exploration work and urgent innovation.

  • Promoting Equal Futures Across the Lifespan

    Nora Super, Tina Tchen, Nadina Gracia, Carolyn Colvin, and Kathy Greenlee speak at the White House

    Nora Super, Tina Tchen, Nadina Gracia, Carolyn Colvin, and Kathy Greenlee speak at the White House, April 24, 2015.

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the White House Conference on Aging website. See the original post here.

    On April 24, I was honored to represent our nation’s older women in a roundtable discussion hosted by the White House Council on Women and Girls.

    The meeting, “Promoting Equal Futures across the Lifespan,” brought together leaders from the fields of aging, health, abuse in later life, and financial security to discuss key issues affecting older women, complementing the 2015 White House Conference on Aging.

    I was joined by Deputy Director for Minority Health Dr. Nadine Gracia, Acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin, and Nora Super, Executive Director of the White House Conference on Aging. Kicking off the conversation, Executive Director of the Council on Women and Girls, Tina Tchen, spoke of the commitment of the Council to address inequalities and barriers facing women and girls of all ages. Tina’s leadership in expanding our national dialogue on women and girls to include older women sets an example I hope others will follow.

  • Women: Don’t Forget Your Own Health

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' blog. See the original post here.

    As a mom, I know how easy it is to put the health of your family before your own. It’s hard to balance it all – from a quick run, to a busy job, to making the parent-teacher conferences, all while trying to eat a balanced diet. It can be challenging.

    But as we celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, which kicks off National Women’s Health Week, it’s a great time to remember you can’t take care of your loved ones, unless you take care of yourself.

  • “Don’t Look to Your Left, Don’t Look to Your Right -- It’s on You.”

    Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks on campus sexual assault

    Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks on campus sexual assault, at the University of Illinois, in Urbana, Illinois, April 23, 2015. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    “Don’t look to your left, don’t look to your right, it’s on you.” Vice President Biden spoke these powerful words last Thursday at a rally held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) to address the travesty of sexual violence on our nation’s college and university campuses. The Vice President galvanized an enthusiastic mass of students, administrators, community leaders, advocates, and survivors to mark Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and to celebrate the "It’s On Us" campaign.

    It’s on Us, launched by the Administration last September, is an initiative that focuses both on the dignity and rights of survivors, and on the broader societal responsibility for preventing and putting an end to sexual assault on college and university campuses. By proclaiming “it’s on us,” the campaign emphasizes that everyone—including bystanders and those not immediately impacted by sexual assault, as well as institutions like schools, law enforcement, religious and athletic organizations, and others—must step up to the plate. Bystanders, both as individuals and as a collective, have the opportunity and the agency to intervene when someone else is at risk. They also have the ability to discourage harmful behaviors by establishing a new conversation on healthy relationships, positive images of women, and a rejection of gender inequality.

  • InnovateHER: Weaving New Stories for Women’s Lives

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Small Business Administration's blog. See the original post here.

    The topic of this year’s Women’s History Month is Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives. As we look back at the changes throughout history, women’s presence in our economy has shifted significantly. Now we have more women in the workforce than ever before, a number that is close to surpassing that of men. Gender equality is not simply about getting a woman a spot at the metaphorical table anymore. Women have made great strides in education, the workforce, and their role in the economy, BUT there still are not enough women in leadership positions.

    Consider this, the number of women venture capital (VC) partners has dropped to 6 percent, from 10 percent in 1999. This directly correlates with women’s access to capital; only about 7% of venture capital funding in the U.S. goes to women. A Harvard Business School study asked potential investors to rate a series of pitches, some of which were narrated by women and some by men. Even when the scripts for the pitches were exactly the same, only 32% of people said they'd fund the woman, compared to 68% who said they would fund the man.