If you are anything like most women, your plate is full trying to manage life at work and at home. Doing so has been made even more difficult during a tough economy. That’s why the Obama administration decided to hold the White House Forum on Women and the Economy. While the forum comes during an election cycle when Democrats have been aggressively courting women voters, it also coincides with the March job numbers which show that the overall Black unemployment rate is 14.0 percent compared to the overall rate of 8.2 percent. Meanwhile, the rate for Black women over 20 years old is 12.3 percent.
The president, flanked by a cadre of women from all walks of life, acknowledged there is still room for progress, saying, “It’s clear to every American that there will still be ups and downs along the way, and that we’ve got a lot more work to do. And that includes addressing challenges that are unique to women’s economic security.”
The president also discussed how critical it is to avoid taking the needs of women for granted. He told the crowd of women business, political and community leaders, “Women are not some monolithic bloc. Women are not an interest group. You shouldn’t be treated that way. Women are over half this country and its workforce — not to mention 80 percent of my household.”
A new report entitled Keeping America’s Women Moving Forward, The Key to an Economy Built to Last , explains how the administration has worked to ensure women’s economic security. According to the report, while women are essential breadwinners in most families, they still aren’t getting their fair share, earning 77 cents to the dollar that men are paid.
Among the findings:
— Of the additional 3.4 million students who have received Pell grants since the President took office, approximately 2.3 million are women.
— 1.1 million women between the ages of 19 and 25 who would have been uninsured currently receive health coverage under a parent’s health insurance plan or through an individually purchased health insurance plan.
— More than 16,000 Small Business Administration Loans totaling more than $4.5 billion were granted to women-owned small businesses.
The president believes that expanding economic opportunities for women and ending discriminatory practices can build an economy that restores security for middle class families. He said, “Opportunity and equality don’t come without a fight. And sometimes, you’ve got to keep fighting even after you’ve won some victories.”
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(Photo: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)