Transcript for Obama Marks Anniversary of Equal Pay Act, Pushes for More Reform
This is a special report from ABC news. And over when I'm down Cutler -- New York with a CBC news digital special report President Obama today focusing on women in the economy. Commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the equal pay act signed into law by president John F. Kennedy in 1953. President as the president -- the case. Thank. It's. Thanks. So much. The. Well welcome the White House it is wonderful see all of you thank you Joseph for that kind introduction. Thank you Valerie for the great leadership -- -- on this and to all of it. -- business leaders and advocates. Members of congress who are here. Members of my administration. I'm so glad that all of you could be here to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary equal pay act. -- when you think about it we're not just celebrating the law. We're honoring the heroes who made that -- possible. Fierce determination of Americans who saw or wrong. And worked to right. For women who were sick. And tired. Of being sick and tired. -- saying the same jobs. Advertised with the different pay scales. Woman who were tired of being treated like second class workers. Women like Dorothy Height and congresswoman had met -- All of the push to make the equal pay act a -- And today we recognize. The work of those brave -- Until equal pay truly is a reality. We're also here to recommit ourselves to the work that remains to be done. Or fifty years ago today president Kennedy signed the equal pay act in the law right here in the White House. He said it was basic to our democracy. It's the idea that all of us are created equal and as I said in my inaugural address this year. Our journey to equality is not complete until our wives our mothers our daughters. Can earn a living equal to their efforts. The -- -- the bill was signed into law women earned thirty 59 cents. For every dollar a man -- on average. Today it's about certain things themselves. -- -- -- About 77 cents. -- If you're. -- -- -- -- -- So I guess that's progress but. Does -- everything that's good not. I assume everybody thinks we can -- -- Yes we can't. Over the course of her career -- working woman with a college degree will earn on average. Hundreds of thousands of dollars less than a man who does the same work. That's wrong. I don't want that for Malia and Sasha. I don't want that for your daughters. I don't want that to be an example. That any. Child growing up ends up accepting -- Somehow the norm. I want. Every child to grow up knowing that a woman's. Hard work is valued and rewarded just as much as any man's. Now. What's important to realize also though is this is not just an issue -- -- There's a family issued as a middle class -- there's an economic issue. Just last week a report confirmed what we -- now. That women are increasingly the breadwinners. For American families. Women are now the primary source of income for nearly 40% of American families 40% almost that. As -- sign of panic about would be afraid about. That's the side. Of the progress in the -- -- we've made. -- what it does mean. Is that when more women are bringing home bacon. They shouldn't doesn't. -- -- -- -- -- Don't if -- -- if they're bringing home more of the income and writing com is less than -- fair share. That means that families. Have less to get mile for child care or health care or gas or brokers. It makes it harder for middle class families to save and retire it leaves small businesses. With the customers. Who have less money in the box. Which is not good for the economy. That's not a good example to set for our sons and daughters but it's also not a good. Recipe for long term stable economic growth. So to anyone who says 77 cents on the dollar sounds pretty close to -- -- say. -- -- -- -- You won't like it if your vote only counted in three out of four elections. You would like -- if your daughter's. Or suns went to school. But. They only got top three out of four -- four days a week. Or -- or four out of five days a week. You would like it if -- if you -- forced to work every fourth day without pay. Meant to be complaining about that. There one thing that was equal. Warfare. There's the -- first century it's time to close -- that. That's why the first bill I signed him along with the -- Ledbetter. Fair pay act. Valerie mention I created the first ever white house council on women and girls which is working to close that -- And dollars council that this -- doing a great job. In bringing the experiences of women into our federal policies as well. It's why established -- national equal pay task force to help crack down on violations. -- equal pay laws which by the way they're doing at a record rate. And through education and outreach. Are also helping employers develop tools to comply with the nation's equal pay laws on the wrong. And that's why earlier this year I signed a presidential memorandum directing the federal government. To close that gap for good for its employees. -- -- Also we're using the latest technology to help workers get the information they need to figure out if they're underpaid. And thanks to innovators like. Rachel and then -- look -- -- Were up here we can now say. There's an app for that. But as long as this gap persists. We're gonna have more work to do. And -- the the time to keep up the work. That all -- trail blazers started fifty years ago. Thousand times for congress to step up and pass the paycheck fairness act. How time for us to encourage more young women to pursue math and science education. Now it's time for us to hire more stem teachers so all our children are prepared for the high tech high wage jobs tomorrow. Now's the time to make sure business is off for men and women the flexibility to be. Good employees and good parents tonight really want to commend. Deloitte and -- some mall and the CEOs who were world with us here today -- creating exactly. The kind of -- kinds of innovative work places that help hardworking Americans bribe and they're committed to peck and and so. And when -- one. When you have just talked to Joseph. You know say thank him. CEOs who -- out there if you want a first class company. That is tapping and the talents and resources a lawyer employees. Make sure that. You're put in place systems. So -- -- feel like they're being treated fairly and equally. It it's it's that simple principle and it's a powerful. And now's the time to make sure that. You know we are putting in place a minimum wage. That you can -- -- Because 60%. -- We do all this and and this will be part of our broader agenda to create good jobs and to strengthen middle class security. To keep rebuilding an economy. That works for -- -- The gives every American the chance to get had no matter who we are what you look like what your last name is who we love. That's what -- keep on fighting for that's where -- gonna keep on fighting for. And we have all of -- -- your predecessors to thank for the incredible progress this country's made in eliminating the barriers. And injustices that might keep our daughters from -- the same right same chances and same freedoms as our sons our product thank you very much. This. Week. And the president wrapping up his remarks. -- -- signed in by president Kennedy at the time. President also making remarks that time. He was 59 cents for every dollar the -- the gender gap to spirits and is now. Reported at 77%. President 77 excuse me president saying. Yes. Improvements but not far enough and the -- -- restoration and rocked by a number of controversies these past couple of months it looks so yet another one is piling on all of as this announcement was being made for this marking in this. Fifty years of legislation later today the State Department will address report from the Office of Inspector General that shows. The State Department might have covered up some allegations of lewd behavior. Of both US officials and foreign diplomats. That is going to take place around 2 o'clock today the president going to announce some more changes also to his cabinet nominee Jason Furman. To lead the council of economic advisors replacing Alan Krueger Furman working -- the past administrations as well was the president's economic advisor. It is 2008 campaign but it remains to see if the senate will -- -- confirmation. On that nomination so a very busy day for the White House there but president on -- kicking off his first public appearance. For the morning of course have a complete report on abcnews.com. And updates throughout the day. As they warrant for now I'm -- Cutler and New York with this ABC news digital special report. This has been a special report from me.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.