Women's rights a priority for Obama panel

"Investments in women are about creating a better world," says Melanne Verveer, the new ambassador-at-large for global women's issues. She says societies such as Congo where women are degraded often "implode" and result in failed states. "These issues do not belong in some kind of box on the margins. There is a commitment in the administration. … It's very gratifying."

• Obama appointed the first White House senior adviser on violence against women, domestic violence expert Lynn Rosenthal. In her new job, Rosenthal will help develop policies and programs aimed at reducing domestic violence and sexual assault.

"She will be a leader in this White House in stopping the violence and sexual assault of women and will be an integral part of this administration," Vice President Biden said in June when she was appointed to the post. As a senator, Biden wrote the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, which imposed tougher penalties on abusers and expanded victims' rights to sue. He called it his "proudest legislative achievement."

• First lady Michelle Obama holds many events focused on women, including a Women's History Month event in March in which she enlisted 21 of the nation's most accomplished women — from singer Sheryl Crow to four-star Gen. Ann Dunwoody — to talk to kids in some of Washington, D.C.'s most beleaguered schools.

The first lady's spokeswoman, Katie McCormick Lelyveld, says Michelle Obama's ongoing work with military families also reflects her commitment to women's issues.

• Tina Tchen, director of the new White House council, says there is "enthusiasm across the board for these issues" in the administration. She's working on programs related to everything from child-labor laws to financial literacy for women.

Former NOW president Kim Gandy says women's groups want the administration and Congress to approve paid family leave, pass anti-wage-discrimination laws and strengthen Title IX rules that prohibit discrimination in school athletics programs.

"There is a lot of policy work yet to be done," she says. "But I believe they're committed to doing it."

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