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Obama creates US women's advisory panel

Obama creates US women's advisory panel

President Barack Obama invoked his grandmother, single mother and two young daughters on Wednesday in creating a White House panel to advise him on issues facing women and girls.
Obama, standing with prominent members of his administration and with his wife, Michelle, sitting nearby, signed an executive order creating an across-the-government council designed to help Cabinet agencies and departments collaborate on ways to make sure women were provided opportunities offered to men.
Later Wednesday, at the State Department, Obama's wife, Michelle, joined Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to present the department's Award for International Women of Courage to seven female activists from Afghanistan, Guatemala, Iraq, Malaysia, Niger, Russia and Uzbekistan who have fought to end discrimination and inequality.
In the White House ceremony, Obama said, "I sign this order not just as a president, but as a son, a grandson, a husband and a father because, growing up, I saw my mother put herself through school and follow her passion for helping others," Obama said. "But I also saw how she struggled to raise me and my sister on her own, worrying about how she'd pay the bills and educate herself and provide for us."
He said he signed the order to honor all the women who came before him, such as his grandmother who was a bank vice president but was denied promotions because of her sex. He said the fight for gender equality is far from over.
"So now it's up to us to carry that work forward, to ensure that our daughters and granddaughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacles to their achievements _ and that they have opportunities their mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers never dreamed of," Obama said. "That's the purpose of this council; those are the priorities of my presidency."
He also said his own experiences with the women in his life reflect the challenges of all women.
"I've seen Michelle, the rock of the Obama family, juggling work and parenting with more skill and grace than anybody that I know," Obama said. "But I also saw how it tore at her at times, how sometimes when she was with the girls she was worrying about work, and when she was at work she was worrying about the girls. It's a feeling that I share every day."
Obama cited U.S. statistics to reinforce his case: Women earn 78 cents for every dollar men make; 1 in 4 women still experiences domestic violence; women are 49 percent of the work force but only 3 percent of Fortune 500 chiefs.
Obama named senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, herself a single mother, to head the group, which would include Clinton and other Cabinet secretaries and other administration officials. White House aide Tina Tchen would run its day-to-day operations.
The announcement was part of the administration's push to mark Women's History Month.
Clinton, wife of former President Bill Clinton, spoke from experience at the State Department ceremony.
"I know a little a bit about the role that Michelle Obama is filling now, and I have to say that in a very short time she has through her grace and her wisdom become an inspiration to women and girls not only in the United States but around the world," the former first lady said by way of introduction.
Mrs. Obama returned the compliment. She thanked Clinton for her service and dedication to improving living conditions for women and girls.
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Associated Press writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report from the State Department.


Updated : 2020-12-05 02:58 GMT+08:00