President Obama today welcomed a group of accomplished and inspiring women to a reception in the East Room of the White House. The group, which included leaders like A&E Networks CEO Abbe Raven, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Girl Scouts' CEO Anna Maria Chávez, astronaut Sunita Williams, activists Dolores Huerta and Lilly Ledbetter, and WNBA star (and 3-time Olympic Gold Medalist) Tamika Catchings, joined the President, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to celebrate the progress women make in this country each and every day. President Obama highlighted the changes we've seen in the past century:
When I look around this room, it is hard to believe that 100 years ago this month, thousands of women were marching right outside this house demanding one of our most fundamental right: the right to vote, to have a say in our democracy. And today, a century later, its rooms are full of accomplished women who have overcome discrimination, shattered glass ceilings, and become outstanding role models for all of our sons and daughters. And that means we've come a long way, and that’s thanks to the efforts of so many people like you.
Because of the hard work and exemplary leadership of the women in this room, military families have protected family and medical leave. Women have legal recourse to fight against pay discrimination... Women have the opportunity to serve on the front lines of our military conflicts, and that means that they're getting paid and promoted equally. Women have the opportunity to make their own choices about their health.
President Obama used his remarks at the event to make a personnel announcement, revealing that he is nominating Cathy Russell, who has served as Dr. Jill Biden's Chief of Staff and is a longtime advocate for women, as the next Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues:
It’s women like Cathy, like Jill, like Amanda, like Michelle, like all of you, that inspire so much progress each and every day. And I’ve got to tell you, all of you inspire me to make sure that I’m doing everything that I can as President to carry on that progress, and to do everything we can to ensure equality and opportunity for all women.
Just last week, I was proud to sign the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act -– a law, by the way, that Cathy helped to make possible in the first place, securing for women the protections and the services to help them live their lives free from fear of violence and free to pursue their own measure of happiness.
And that’s what everybody deserves in this country -– the opportunity to make of their lives what they will, no matter who they are, what they look like, whether they are boys or girls, women or men. That’s why I ran for President in the first place –- to put the same rights and opportunities within the reach of all of our daughters and sons. And while there’s still a lot of work to be done, I am confident that we can reach that goal, that we can make sure that every single door is open, every dream is within reach -- for Malia, for Sasha, for your daughters, for your granddaughters -- to make sure that they never feel like there are barriers in front of them, and that if they work hard, they can make it.