From Sunlen Miller:
At a concert event honoring International Women’s Day, President Obama said that in 2010 “full gender quality has not yet been achieved,”’ and that the task of “perfecting America” in order to shatter all the glass ceilings that have “yet to be shattered” still goes on.
“As I see Sasha and Malia getting older, I think about the world that they -– and all of America’s daughters -– will inherit,” Mr. Obama said from the East Room, “And I think about all of the opportunities that are still beyond reach for too many young women and too many of our brothers and sisters — too many of our sisters and mothers and aunts — all of the glass ceilings that have yet to be shattered.”
Drawing up images from the women in his own life – the president recalled when his own grandmother hit a glass ceiling, “and had to watch as men, no more qualified than she was, rise up the corporate ladder” and his wife, Michelle struggle with work-family balance before their days in the White House.
The president said that more work needs to be done, not only for promoting women’s empowerment, but also to promote economic development and economic success both within the United States but also around the world.
“We are doing it because it’s the right thing to do. I say that not only as a President, but also as the father of two daughters, as a son and a grandson, and as a husband.”
The President said that the story of America’s women over the past has been full of “daring, indomitable women,” – like Abigail Adams, Dorothy Height, Sylvia Mendez, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Sandra Day O’Connor, Madeline Albright, and Hillary Rodham Clinton – who all created hope and progress.
“It’s a story of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters making the most of that most American of demands –- to be treated the same as everybody else. And it’s a story of women, from those on the Mayflower to the one I’m blessed to call my wife, who looked across the dinner table, and thought, I’m smarter than that guy,” Obama said to a round of laughter from the mostly women audience.
The president ran through a laundry list of changes his administration has made to help women’s rights – from the Lilly Ledbetter bill, to helping to lift the global gag rule that restricted women’s access to family planning services abroad, to the decision to allow women to serve on submarines.
“And next month, I’ll host an entrepreneurship summit to help fulfill a commitment I made in Cairo; a summit that will focus, in part, on the challenges facing women entrepreneurs in Muslim communities around the world.”
There was a little ribbing going on between the First Lady and the president from behind the podium. Opening up her remarks before the president Mrs. Obama commented that she loves speaking first before her husband, “I get to speak first while he stands and watches. I love this. Look at me adoringly. “
The president responded from the audience, “I can do that.”
“With sincerity,” she said back.
When it was the presidents turn later at the podium he made sure to tell the First Lady that he’s “very sincere” when he looks at her adoringly.
Singer Katharine McPhee and Afghan singer Mozdah Jamalzadah performed. Actress Kerry Washington served as the Emcee before a crowd of women cabinet secretaries, members of congress, members of the administration, and women leaders from across the country.