Category Archives: Women's Issues

Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference 2010

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Tina Tchen

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will speak at the California Women’s Conference 2010, hosted by California First Lady Maria Shriver and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The annual Women’s Conference inspires, empowers and educates women to be Architects of Change in their own lives and in the lives of others.

Last year, I was honored to attend the event where Valerie Jarrett participated in parts of the Conference’s A Woman’s Nation: The Status of the American Woman panel. There she represented the Council on Women and Girls and discussed our efforts to improve workplace flexibility both in the federal government and the private sector.

We are excited that the Administration can be a part of this important event again and we encourage you to participate as well!

You can learn more by reading First Lady Michelle Obama’s remarks as well as Dr. Jill Biden’s remarks.

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***Photos include attendees, performers and speakers: Dr. Jill Biden, Jane Goodall, Oprah Winfrey, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Former First Lady of the US Laura Bush, Diane Swayer, Former Associate Justice Sandra Day O’ Connor, Sister Terry Dodge, Associate Justice Sonya Sotomayer, Tennis player Billie Jean King, Associate Justice Elena Kaegan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown, Anne Sweeney, Victoria Beckham, Recording artist Mary J. Blige, Author Deepak Chopra, Recording artist Sarah MacLachlan, Brian Williams, Phil Knight, Poet Mary Oliver, Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Nick Kristof, Suze Orman, Howard Schultz, and Oral Lee Brown.

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our special section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Filed under California, Change, Dr. Jill Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, Women's Issues

A Battle that Takes Place Every Day

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Dr. Jill Biden

Lorene Nelson, Dr. Biden, Joy Foster and Tina Tchen after the call in Dr. Bidens office October 15, 2010. (by Chris Smith - HHS)

Today I had the pleasure of co-hosting a conference call with Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to highlight Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to emphasize the importance of early detection and regular screenings.

We were joined on the call by breast cancer survivors, advocates, and various women’s group from across the country. I was especially honored to have two breast cancer survivors, Joy Veronica Foster and Lorene Nelson, join me in my office so they could share their personal stories on the call. Listening to these women, and knowing we were joined by many others on the line was truly inspirational and heartwarming.

Chances are that anyone reading this post has been touched by breast cancer –

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but the battle against breast cancer takes place every day, every hour, every 69 seconds as someone’s mother, sister, daughter, and friend loses her life to breast cancer. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but today’s conference call gave me hope. With the ongoing commitment of the Obama-Biden Administration to ensure that affordable and accessible preventive care is a reality, and the many breast cancer advocates, and survivors like Lorene and Joy who are changing lives with their work every day – I know we are moving closer to a breast cancer-free world.

-Jill

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Filed under Breast Cancer Awareness, Dr. Jill Biden, Health, Kathleen Sebelius (Sec of HHS), Women's Issues

2010 Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Tina Tchen

Members of the audience stand and applaud as President Barack Obama arrives to address the 2010 Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit at the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C., Oct. 5, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Yesterday, I participated in events for the Fortune Most Powerful Women’s Summit – held for the first time ever in Washington, D.C.! The Summit includes over 500 women leaders from business, government, philanthropy, media, education, and the arts. I started the evening at a Minute Mentoring session with 75 impressive high school girls from across the Washington, DC area. This lively group of girls was selected because they submitted applications where they were asked to write about their career aspirations. During the mentoring session, I got to spend one-on-one time with the girls, answering their questions, offering support and providing advice. They were remarkable young women!

After the mentoring session, the girls and I were off to the Fortune dinner. This event was attended by incredible women – including a number of senior level women from our Administration. President Obama keynoted the event and talked about the efforts we are undertaking to rebuild our economy, and the importance of women in business and the workforce. The President highlighted the 75 young women leaders and listed some of their career aspirations – “cultural anthropologist”, “classical singer”, “U.S. Senator” and a “professional race car driver”. He spoke eloquently about the steps that the Administration has taken to support their dreams and make women and girls a priority. The President addressed more broadly our efforts on behalf of small businesses, our efforts to train and educate workers, make our workplace more flexible, and make America more competitive. It was a special evening and an important statement about the Administration’s commitment to women and girls.

Tina Tchen is Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Executive Director of the Council on Women and Girls

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Filed under Change, First Lady Michelle Obama, Pres. Barack Obama, Uncategorized, Women's Issues

President Obama Signs the Tribal Law and Order Act

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Lynn Rosenthal

President Barack Obama, surrounded by members of congress and Native American leaders, signs the Tribal Law and Order Act during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House, on July 29, 2010 in Washington, DC. The Act will give tribal courts the authority to impose harsher sentences and will require the courts to keep a better record of declinations involving Indian Country among other provisions. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America)


We encourage readers to watch the video of the signing, including the moving introduction from Lisa Marie Iyotte.

The President just signed the Tribal Law and Order Act — an important step to help the Federal Government better address the unique public safety challenges that confront tribal communities.

According to a Department of Justice report, Native American women suffer from violent crime at a rate three and a half times greater than the national average. Astoundingly, one in three Native American women will be raped in their lifetimes. At the White House Tribal Nations Conference in November 2009, President Obama stated that this shocking figure “is an assault on our national conscience that we can no longer ignore.”

Last week, Congress took another important step to improve the lives of Native American women by passing the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. The Act includes a strong emphasis on decreasing violence against women in Native communities, and is one of many steps this Administration strongly supports to address the challenges faced by Native women.

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Filed under Change, Native Americans, Pres. Barack Obama, Uncategorized, Women's Issues

First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks at the 2010 Women’s Summit in Reno, Nevada

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Schulman

First Lady Michelle Obama greets the crowd after making remarks at the Women's Summit with Senator Harry Reid in Reno, Nevada. June 1, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)


Today First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Reno, Nevada where she delivered the keynote address to the 2010 Women’s Summit. The Summit, hosted by Senator Harry Reid, brought together a diverse group of women from across the country to talk about the issues that impact their lives as women and as Americans.

In her remarks, Mrs. Obama used the example of health care to illustrate women’s unique and increasingly significant role when it comes to keeping families healthy:

Eight in 10 mothers report that they’re the ones responsible for choosing their children’s doctors, taking them to the appointments, managing follow-up care. And many women are making the same decisions for their spouses. And more than 10 percent of women in this country are currently taking care of a sick or elderly relative, often a parent, and making critical health care decisions for them as well.

But women aren’t just disproportionately affected because of the role we play in our family, we’re also affected because the jobs we do are more likely to be part-time or in small businesses, jobs that are — less likely provide health insurance. Women are more likely to be denied coverage because of so called preexisting conditions like having a C-section or a previous pregnancy. In some cases, insurance plans don’t cover basis women’s health services like maternity care or preventative care for mammograms and Pap smears. And a recent study showed that 25-year-old women are charged up to 84 percent more than 25-year-old men for the same coverage. And at age 40, it’s 40 percent more — for the exact same coverage.

Now, we know this is unacceptable. It is unacceptable for women. It’s unacceptable for families. And it is unacceptable for our country.

And that’s part of the reason why so many people fought so hard to pass health reform this year. Under the new law, starting this year, insurance companies will never again be allowed to deny children coverage because of preexisting conditions.

In closing, the First Lady noted that while issues like health care, the economy or caring for families may affect women in particular, they aren’t just women’s issues:

When insurance companies deny coverage to women for preexisting conditions or refuse to cover treatment, it can devastate an entire family. When women make less than men for the same work, that hurts families who find themselves with less income and have to work harder just to get by. And when employers don’t allow employees the flexibility to care for their family, that hurts children, it hurts grandparents, it hurts husbands, and it puts a strain on an entire household.

But the good news is that thanks to so many extraordinary women who came before us, we’ve really come a long way. We know that all of us are here today because of all those generations who put in that time, who packed up their things, and staked their claims in places here, and who cracked and shattered those glass ceilings so that we could have opportunities that they never dreamed of.

And we know that it will be up to all of you — the leaders, the activists, the visionaries, the organizers, the everyday women, to carry that work forward, because what we’re working towards — all of us — is to ensure that our daughters and our granddaughters can dream just a little bigger and reach just a little higher than we did. That’s really why I’m here.

So what I can promise is that if you keep the discussion going, and if all of you keep fighting and organizing and standing up for the causes that we all share, then I know that together — together — we will keep moving forward, not just as women, but as Americans.

So I really, truly, can’t express to you how grateful we are for your leadership. We look to you for that energy, so don’t ever stop. Keep it up. And thank you. Thank you for all your support and your hard work.

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Filed under (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid, First Lady Michelle Obama, Nevada, Women's Issues

Rima Fakih, Miss Michigan & Arab-American, Crowned 2010 Miss USA

Posted by: Audiegrl

Miss Michigan Rima Fakih is crowned Miss USA 2010 Sunday, May 16, 2010 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

AP~ Lebanese immigrant Rima Fakih says it was a certain look from Donald Trump that tipped her off that she had won the 2010 Miss USA title.

The 24-year-old Miss Michigan beat out 50 other women to take the title Sunday night, despite nearly stumbling in her evening gown.

She told reporters later that she believed she had won after glancing at pageant owner Trump as she awaited the results with the first runner-up, Miss Oklahoma USA Morgan Elizabeth Woolard.

“That’s the same look that he gives them when he says, ‘You’re hired,'” on Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” she said.

“She’s a great girl,” said Trump, who owns the pageant with NBC in a joint venture.

Fakih took top honors at the pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip after strutting confidently in an orange and gold bikini, wearing a strapless white gown that resembled a wedding dress and saying health insurance should cover birth control pills.

Fakih, an Arab-American from Dearborn, Mich., told pageant organizers her family celebrates both Muslim and Christian faiths. She moved to the United States as a baby and was raised in New York, where she attended a Catholic school. Her family moved to Michigan in 2003.

Pageant officials said historical pageant records were not detailed enough to show whether Fakih was the first Arab American, Muslim or immigrant to win the Miss USA title. The pageant started in 1952 as a local bathing suit competition in Long Beach, Calif.

Fakih told reporters she sold her car after graduating college in Michigan to help pay for her run in the Miss Michigan USA pageant.

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Filed under Christianity, Fashion, Islam/Muslim, Michigan, Uncategorized, Women's Issues

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden Speak at the DNC Women’s Leadership Forum Issues Conference

Posted by: Audiegrl

When you need something done and you ask women to do it, it gets done~First Lady Michelle Obama

DNC~The first half of today’s Women’s Leadership Forum event was capped by appearances by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, who have worked closely together on issues from military families to their recent visit to Haiti.

Dr. Biden spoke about her work teaching at a community college, and some of the extraordinary women she’s met who are working to improve their lives and the lives of those around them:

“I am profoundly moved by the women I meet, whether in my travels or in my classroom each day, by their determination to learn, and their quest to make a better life for themselves and their families.”

First Lady Michelle Obama then took to the stage, reminding the audience of when she’d last been with the group, at the Women’s Leadership Forum held in Chicago in 2008. The First Lady Lady spoke on what’s changed since and what remains the same now:

“The last time we were together, it was back in late October of 2008, and you were all meeting in my hometown, Chicago…A lot has changed since we last met. But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed. Back then I talked about the issues that we face—from the economy, to health care, to education. And I said that these issues aren’t and they still aren’t about politics. They’re personal. And they’re personal for every single one of us in this room, and they’re personal for every single one of us in this country.

It’s easy to lose sight of that fact with all the back and forth that goes on here in Washington — folks yelling at each other on TV so that little things get blown out of proportion and sometimes big, important things don’t always get the attention that they deserve.

But when Barack and I travel the country now and we spend time with ordinary folks, they don’t have much interest in the scorekeeping that goes on here in Washington. They really don’t…

The questions they ask have nothing to do with the daily chatter that goes on here, and it has everything to do with the struggles, the real struggles they’re facing in their lives. They tell us about insurance companies that refuse to pay for the treatment that they need, and they ask us, “What do I do now?” Or they tell us, “I’ve been out of a job for months.” And they ask, “What are you going to do to help folks like me?”

…They are the basis for every decision he makes—not whether it’s good politics, not whether it’s going to make good headlines, but whether it’s good for them and for their families.”

The First Lady has made working with young people around the globe a priority, recently taking her first solo international trip to Haiti and Mexico. She told the story of a young woman she had met in Mexico City, and the stories like hers that show how women are the ones leading the fight to improve the world for future generations:

“I’ll never forget about a young woman that I met there named Maricela, who I met at a roundtable discussion with young leaders in Mexico City…Her father had passed away, and her mother — she told a story of how she worked tirelessly to support her and her four siblings; said her mom was always the first one to wake up in the morning, and the last one to go to bed at night. But she told us about the fact that despite their hardships, her mother was determined to build a better life for her daughter.

…This is a story that is told every day all around the world, and right here in America — a story about the strength and determination of women. Women who haven’t had much in their own lives, but who know exactly what they want for their children. Women who work those extra shifts, and make those sacrifices, so their daughters –- and their sons –- can have opportunities they never imagined for themselves.

I’m talking about women like Lilly Ledbetter, who kept on fighting for equal pay even when she knew that it was too late for herself, because she wanted something more for the women who came after her…I’m talking about women like Dr. Dorothy Height, one of my heroes — who kept up the fight for civil and economic rights up through the final months of her life. She once said, “I want to be remembered as someone who used herself and anything she could touch to work for justice and freedom…I want to be remembered as someone who tried.”

And every day, across this country, so many women wake up every day and try -– using everything they have –- to make life a little better for others…and that’s what you all are doing—building a better world for our kids and grand kids. We need you to stay involved. When you need something done and you ask women to do it, it gets done.”

Remarks by The First Lady and Dr. Biden to the Women’s Leadership Forum Issues Conference

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Filed under DNC, Dr. Jill Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, Uncategorized, Women's Issues