NOW cheers the formation of the White House Council on Women and Girls, which was created by executive order of President Barack Obama today. It was a pleasure for me to be at the White House to hear the president make this commitment to supporting women and girls in such strong and unequivocal terms. It was a heartening moment for those of us who have worked so hard for this day.
There can be no question that the needs of women and girls require the attention of the White House itself. As President Obama pointed out in today’s speech, women still earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. One out of every four women will experience some form of domestic violence during her lifetime. Women make up more than half the population, yet are only 17 percent of the U.S. Congress. And while women are 49 percent of the nation’s workforce, only three percent of the Fortune 500 companies are headed by women.
The make-up of the White House Council is extraordinary. It will be headed by Valerie Jarrett, assistant to the president and one of his closest friends and advisers, and will include every Cabinet secretary and the head of every Cabinet-level agency. The Executive Director of the Council will be Tina Tchen, deputy assistant to the president and a long-time advocate of women’s rights.
We asked for a Cabinet-level office to work on women’s issues, and we got the entire Cabinet. NOW looks forward to supporting the work of the White House Council on Women and Girls in the months ahead. There is much work to be done.