White House Council on Women and Girls

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On March 11, 2009, two days after International Women's Day, US President Obama signed an executive order creating a
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White House Council on Women and Girls, to help eliminate discrimination and gender inequality, and ensure that government legislation is gender-sensitive and responds to the needs of women and families.

The event was accompanied by a ceremony honouring women who have contributed to helping the plight of girls and women in Afghanistan, Guatemala, Iraq, Malaysia, Niger, Russia, Uzbekistan and Yemen. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama were also there to present the Secretary of State's Award for International Women of Courage.

The White House Council on Women and Girls

The president has selected Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser, to chair the new council.

The executive order states that the purpose of the Council will be to : "establish a coordinated Federal response to issues that particularly impact the lives of women and girls and to ensure that Federal programs and policies address and take into account the distinctive concerns of women and girls, including women of color and those with disabilities."

Membership

The White House Council on Women and Girls will be located within the Executive Office of the President. Membershil will include:

  • the Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison, who shall serve as Chair of the Council; the Secretary of State; the Secretary of the Treasury; the Secretary of Defense; the Attorney General; the Secretary of the Interior; the Secretary of Agriculture; the Secretary of Commerce; the Secretary of Labor; the Secretary of Health and Human Services; the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; the Secretary of Transportation; the Secretary of Energy; the Secretary of Education; the Secretary of Veterans Affairs; the Secretary of Homeland Security; the Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations; the United States Trade Representative; the Director of the Office of Management and Budget; the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Administrator of the Small Business Administration; the Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council; the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council; the heads of such other executive branch departments, agencies, and offices as the President may, from time to time, designate.
  • The Council will also work with representatives of nonprofit organizations, State and local government agencies, elected officials, and other interested persons that will assist with the Council's development of a detailed set of recommendations.

Mission and functions

The Council will work across executive departments and agencies to provide a coordinated Federal response to issues that have a distinct impact on the lives of women and girls, including assisting women-owned businesses to compete internationally and working to increase the participation of women in the science, engineering, and technology workforce, and to ensure that Federal programs and policies adequately take those impacts into account.

The Council shall be responsible for providing recommendations to the President on the effects of pending legislation and executive branch policy proposals; for suggesting changes to Federal programs or policies to address issues of special importance to women and girls; for reviewing and recommending changes to policies that have a distinct impact on women in the Federal workforce; and for assisting in the development of legislative and policy proposals of special importance to women and girls. The functions of the Council are advisory only.

First year priorities

During its first year, the Council will also focus on formulating policies in the following areas:

  • Improving women’s economic security by ensuring that each of the agencies is working to directly improve the economic status of women.
  • Working with each agency to ensure that the administration evaluates and develops policies that establish a balance between work and family.
  • Working with the Vice President, the Justice Department’s Office of Violence Against Women and other government officials to find new ways to prevent violence against women, at home and abroad.
  • the work of the Council will be to help build healthy families and improve women’s health care.

Sources



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