Council on Women and Girls Blog

  • 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.

  • Moms Matter in Our Fight Against Climate Change

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the EPA Connect blog. See the original post here.

    Our children mean the world to us.  So as moms, when we say we must meet our moral obligation to leave the next generation a world that is safe and healthy, we mean it.  For us moms, it’s personal. It’s our children and grandchildren who are currently suffering from the effects of pollution.  It’s our children and grandchildren who make up the future generations each one of us is obligated to protect.   This March marks Women’s History Month; a time to recognize the unwavering strength of the mothers coming together to organize, speak out, and stand up for the health of their children.

    EPA plays a critical role in protecting our children from pollution by keeping our air and water clean and safe, and by taking historic steps to fight climate change.  And it turns out, efforts to combat climate change double as public health protection, too.  The carbon pollution that fuels climate change comes packaged with other dangerous pollutants that cause smog and soot.  With 1-in-10 children in the U.S. today already dealing with asthma—and even higher rates in communities of color—we must do all that we can to reduce harmful exposure.

    That’s why EPA’s effort to set first-ever limits on our biggest source of pollution, power plants, is so important. And EPA is proud to work with mothers like us around the country, compelled to action on behalf of our kids’ health—and the health of generations to come.

  • Stepping out of the Shadows, Together for Women and Girls

    Today, the Office of National AIDS Policy, Office of the Vice President, and the White House Council on Women and Girls commemorate the 10th observance of National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Along with other Federal, national and community organizations and advocates, today we celebrate our accomplishments to date in improving the lives of women and girls affected by HIV, and recognize the work still ahead.

    Our observance highlights the strides we have made in HIV prevention and care for women and girls across the United States. The introduction of antiretroviral drugs means that fewer women die from AIDS and pregnant women have reliable means by which to protect their babies from the virus. In fact, rates of mother-to-child transmission continue to fall, despite more women with HIV giving birth. Under the Affordable Care Act, new health plans are now required to cover HIV screening without cost sharing, for everyone aged 15 to 65, pregnant women, and others who may be at increased risk.

  • Combating Human Trafficking in Supply Chains

    Secretary Kerry Delivers Remarks at the White House Forum on Combating Human Trafficking

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks at the White House Forum on Combating Human Trafficking in Supply Chains at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on January 29, 2015. (State Department photo / Public Domain)

    January marks National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. As we take this time to reflect, we know that human trafficking can take many forms, including labor trafficking, and President Obama feels strongly that it has no place in our business, at home or abroad. 

    That is why today, at the White House, we hosted a forum dedicated to combating human trafficking in supply chains. The event brought together leaders from the private sector, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the federal government to talk about what we can do together to prevent and eliminate any instances of trafficking-related activities in federal contracts and in private sector supply chains.

    Today’s Forum was part of President Obama’s sustained commitment to the ambitious agenda that he laid out in September 2012 to combat human trafficking. This year, the Administration will focus in particular on human trafficking issues in supply chains. The President spoke about this issue earlier this week at the U.S.-India Business Council Summit, where he stressed the need to “keep striving to protect the rights of our workers; to make sure that our supply chains are sourced responsibly.”

  • Marking the First Anniversary of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault

    Last week marked the first anniversary of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault (the Task Force), established by President Obama on January 22, 2014. Since its inception, the Task Force has worked to explore the scope of this serious problem, foster the development of best practices, and improve the federal government’s efforts to prevent and effectively respond to sexual assault on our nation’s campuses. 

    On April 29, 2014, Vice President Biden released the Task Force’s first reportNot Alone – which included recommendations, action steps, and sample policy language to help colleges and universities better address the problem. Three additional resources with sample policy language – Definitions of key terms in sexual misconduct policies, Role of the Title IX Coordinator, and Interim and supportive measures for victims – were released on September 19, 2014, in conjunction with the White House’s announcement of It’s On Us – a new public awareness campaign and cultural movement aimed at fundamentally shifting the way we think about sexual assault.

    The Task Force recognizes that developing strong partnerships between law enforcement agencies, campus administrations, and other community stakeholders is important to sexual assault prevention and response efforts­. To that end, the Task Force is pleased to share a sample memorandum of understanding (MOU), created to improve communication and coordination between campuses and local law enforcement. The MOU is a tool that colleges and universities can use and adapt as they seek to strengthen collaborations, enhance prevention efforts, and address the needs and choices of survivors of sexual assault. 

    As the Task Force enters its second year, we look forward to working with people across the spectrum of campus life in the fight to end sexual assault on our nation’s college campuses. We know that it’s on us – all of us – to step up, take action, and protect our nation’s students.

    More information on the sample MOU can be found here.

    Tina Tchen is the Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

  • Great Strides for Women’s Health Under the Affordable Care Act

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on The Huffington Post. See the original post here.

    President Obama has said repeatedly that “when women succeed, America succeeds.” And over the past year, millions of women have gained the security of knowing that their professional, academic, financial, and personal dreams will not be put in jeopardy if they face a health challenge. Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) released a report detailing the important strides we have made in women’s health as a result of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). 

    Up until last year, insurance companies could — and often did — charge women different premiums than men for the same coverage. As of January 1, 2014, the ACA prohibits this gender discrimination. In part because of improved options and affordability, today’s report outlines a significant 5.5 percentage point decline in the uninsured rate among women between the ages of 18 and 64 since 2013. And as more and more women take advantage of the Open Enrollment period that ends February 15, 2015, and sign up for affordable private health insurance, that number will continue to drop.