Last week, President Obama, mindful of the struggles of his single mother, created a White House panel that will advise him on issues facing women and girls. The council is designed to help cabinet agencies and departments collaborate to make sure that women will also be provided opportunities offered to men.
As part of March’s International Women’s History Month, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced a new post of ambassador-at-large for women’s issues around the world.
That’s not too shabby at all. This is a step in the right direction, and here is hoping that this will lead the United States toward a fuller gender equality.
Washington state has the distinction of both senators being women — Sen. Maria Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murray. Only two other states in the country share this distinction. Along with Gov. Chris Gregoire, we are the only state where three women fill the top three positions in government, the first in the nation.
Having female leaders isn’t about satisfying a demographical quota. Rather, it’s important to have diverse voices up top, so that many options and ideas are put onto the table. Being more thorough, we are in our processes to create an output that works for different kinds of people. For example, two issues that affect many women today are childcare and equal wages compared to male professional counterparts. Who are the best people to vouch for more affordable childcare or equal wages? Yes, women. This is why it’s crucial to have this voice in government.
This week, Assunta Ng wrote a column about how surprised she was that in an advanced country such as Japan, there was still such a wide gap between the social and professional statuses of women and men. Reading the column, perhaps we feel thankful that the United States is more dveloped with women’s rights than Japan — and of course we should take time to be thankful for how far we have come — but we should also look to the future and always think about how we can continue to improve our society because it is not perfect.
Women are still having a tough time shaking off the secretary stereotype. There are many fields in which women are underrepresented, such as law enforcement, technology, business, or science. Oftentimes, the top tiers in fields are dominated by men — female CEOs are hard to come by.
The solution to this is to change our society’s perception on what “women’s work” is and what “men’s work” is. It is also about changing our perception on what strengths and weaknesses are. For some, bearing children is seen as a weakness. Being more empathetic is seen as a weakness.
We have to wonder, why is this? We need to change this.
We also need leaders in both government and the community to not only be role models but to create resources and policies — much like how Obama created the new council last week. We need to utilize these resources as much as we can, to show others that we care about self improvement and that we want to be more active, and we want to go farther in our jobs — all the way to the top. (end)
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