Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The President's Council On Women and Girls

(Valerie Jarrett, Head of the new White House Council on Women and Girls, long-time Obama friend and big campaign fundraiser, Photo:AP)

When you were a kid, you probably took those physical fitness tests that were administered in the name of the President's Council on Physical Fitness. Sometimes if you did the V-Sit really well or you ran a quick mile, they would give you a t-shirt or maybe some candy (the irony of giving candy as a reward for physical fitness never ceased to amaze me).

Today the President created a new council, and you get more than t-shirts from it (hopefully). Its an interagency panel, which means it acts as sort of a liasion between all the different cabinet and cabinet-level agencies (State, Defense, Interior, etc.), making sure that the policies they are planning to enact will help or at least not harm women and girls.

Women's groups are somewhat pleased, though there had been talk of pushing for a cabinet-level "Office of Women" which would have more weight and power than a Presidential Council, but would be infinitely harder to get approved and set up.

Susan Scanlan of the National Council on Women's organizations told Politico: "At one time, we were going to ask for a Cabinet-level office. We decided to hold back . . I’m going to withhold judgment. It’s certainly more than we have I had in the last eight years. We’re pretty happy with this administration.”

Generally, we agree. This is a positive step, but it's up to us women to keep pressuring the administration to respect our rights and our needs. We're excited about the council but let's make sure it has teeth. And maybe t-shirts.

For more on the Council, click here.