This morning, President Barack Obama, in addressing some 300 women leaders, activists, business leaders and entrepreneurs and academics at a White House Forum on Women and the Economy, emphasized the gains for women under his Administration, including increasing judicial appointments, preventive health care coverage, removal of sex discrimination in insurance pricing and saving teacher jobs. He said more jobs would have been saved for teachers and for construction workers if the House had passed his Jobs Act. In his remarks, the President spoke about women, now half of the nation’s workforce and 30% of small businesses, as key to US economic growth. He emphasized the efforts of his Administration to ensure women’s economic security, to create jobs, and business loans for women. Obama stressed equal pay for women is necessary for women, for families and the overall economic health of the country.
Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, who chairs the White House Council on Women and Girls and Tina Tchen, Executive Director of the Council and Chief of Staff to Michele Obama, announced the release of the Council’s report “Keeping America’s Women Moving Forward.” Some achievements outlined in the report include: $4.5 billion for 16,000 loans for women-owned small businesses; summer employment for more than 185,000 low-income young women; and, subsidized employment for over 215,000 women. An additional 400,000 jobs were added or saved for teachers, some 70% of whom are women, under the Recovery Act and the Education Jobs Fund.
In reviewing women’s advancements under his Administration, Obama told the participants that 20.4 million women are already benefiting from expanded preventive health care services such as mammograms and breast and cervical cancer screenings under the Affordable Care Act and 2.3 million women have received college loans through the expansion of the Pell Grant program.
The morning’s program included breakout sessions with Attorney General Eric Holder and White House Advisor on Domestic Violence Lynn Rosenthal, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Deputy Assistant to the President on Health Policy Jeanne Lambrew, and Cecilia Munoz, Domestic Policy Council Director. At the breakout session on violence, Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) President, thanked the Attorney General for the recent modernization of the FBI Uniform Crime Report Definition of Rape to include most rapes. The FMF had led, with the Women’s Law Project, the Rape is Rape Campaign to change the archaic 1927 definition of rape.