President Obama spoke to participants at the White House Forum on Women and the Economy this morning about the role women are playing in our economic recovery:
Right now, no issue is more important than restoring economic security for all our families in the wake of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.
And that includes addressing challenges that are unique to women’s economic security—challenges that have been around since long before the recession hit. And that’s why one of the first things I did after taking office was to create a White House Council on Women and Girls. I wanted to make sure that every agency across my administration considers the needs of women and girls in every decision we make. And today, we’re releasing a report on women and the economy that looks at women’s economic security through all stages of life—from young women furthering their education and beginning their careers, to working women who create jobs and provide for their families, to seniors in retirement or getting ready for retirement.
The report outlines some of the major strides women have made, and the administration’s work to support that progress:
Women are now nearly 50 percent of the workforce
2.3 million women have received Pell Grants for higher education since 2009
Over 16,000 women-owned small businesses have received loans from the Small Business Administration—totaling more than $4.5 billion
Women now receive 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees and 60 percent of master’s degrees in the U.S.
But women still face unique economic challenges, and President Obama is committed to tackling them head on by:
Promoting STEM education for women
Setting up Women’s Business Centers to support female entrepreneurs
Encouraging job creation in fields dominated by women, such as health care and education
Making sure women can access affordable health care and preventive services
Fighting for middle-class tax cuts to make sure that women are better able to provide for their families
The President summed up the next steps:
Opportunity and equality don’t come without a fight. And sometimes, you’ve got to keep fighting even after you’ve won some victories. Things don't always move forward. Sometimes they move backward if you're not fighting for them.
As long as I've got the privilege of being your President, we’re going to keep working every single day to make sure those doors forever stay open, and widen the circle of opportunity for all our kids.