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White House Council on Women and Girls continues to make advancements

The Obama administration has taken important steps to address issues that cause disparities for women and girls of color

It was March 11, 2009, when President Barack Obama signed the executive order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure that the needs of women and girls have a place in the policies that are created in legislation.

Now as the Obama administration exits, they are still making strides. The White House Council on Women and Girls released a report last week on the topic and hosted a forum on the administration’s work to advance equity for women and girls of color.

During the forum, the council highlighted innovative solutions and place-based work that is happening throughout the country. A range of stakeholders from the academic, private, federal and philanthropic sectors attended and discussed ways to break down barriers to success and create more ladders of opportunity for all Americans, including women and girls of color.

The council consists of the heads of every federal agency and major White House office to round out the efforts. The council is chaired by Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president and assistant to the president for public engagement and intergovernmental affairs in the Obama administration.

“When women make less than men for the same work, it hurts families who find themselves with less income, and have to work harder just to get by. When a job doesn’t offer family leave, that also hurts men who want to help care for a new baby or an ailing parent. When there’s no affordable child care, that hurts children who wind up in second-rate care, or spending afternoons alone in front of the television set,” Obama said at the executive order signing.

This report is updated and serves as a follow-up to the 2014 and 2015 reports. It is a full culmination of the Obama administration’s specific work stream called “Advancing Equity.”

In 2014, as part of the effort to take into account the distinct concerns of women and girls, the Council on Women and Girls launched Advancing Equity to ensure that policies and programs across the federal government take into account the unique obstacles faced by women and girls, including women and girls of color and women and girls from marginalized communities.

In November 2014, the Council on Women and Girls released a report, titled Women and Girls of Color: Addressing Challenges and Expanding Opportunities, to identify barriers and disparities facing women and girls of color. This report addressed work done over the first six years of the administration to improve the lives of women and girls of color. It discussed issues such as educational attainment, economic security, health and safety, violence against women, and criminal and juvenile justice. It also included a call to action for the establishment of a federal interagency working group to develop opportunities for advancement, which began in March 2015.

One year later, in November 2015, the council released a new report, titled Advancing Equity for Women and Girls of Color, to highlight some of the additional steps taken by the administration on issues faced by women and girls of color from 2014 to 2015.

The new update contains the council’s efforts to uplift women and girls from marginalized and underserved populations. The call to action surrounding this work has inspired philanthropic leaders, academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations to continue efforts that sustain and build upon the successes achieved in improved life outcomes for women and girls of color and their peers.

Kelley Evans is a digital producer at Andscape. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic Southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.