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White House Council on Women and Girls - An Empty (Pant)Suit?

By March 13, 2009

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It's depressing to see how little media coverage Obama's new White House Council on Women and Girls has gotten. Even Politico.com, which has been good about covering it, puts it dead last at the very bottom of their home page today.

What Politico.com published online yesterday may explain why the silence has been deafening:

After Barack Obama’s election, some in the women’s movement thought big – pushing for a Cabinet-level office, or even a blue-ribbon Presidential Commission on Women.

But when Obama announced his plans Wednesday, he brushed aside those requests.

Instead, he started the White House Council on Women and Girls — a sort of inter-agency task force with no full-time staff, no Cabinet-level leader and no set meeting schedule....

“I think it falls far short of what’s needed,” Martha Burk, a former chairwoman of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, said about the new board. The council will be headed by two top Obama advisers, Valerie Jarrett and Tina Tchen.

“With all respect to Valerie Jarrett and Tina Tchen, both of whom are excellent folks. ... I think both are going to find this is one of many things they’re responsible for and I think they’ll be stretched to give it proper attention. We have told them that,” Burk said....

The White House confirmed officials considered and rejected the idea of creating a presidential commission. "They looked at a variety of options but ultimately they decided to go with the council that was announced," said one official, who asked not to be named.

It's a step forward, but not as big as many had hoped. As the Politico.com article reports, other initiatives are moving forward to address women's concerns: "[T]he Center for American Progress is joining one of Obama’s most prominent female supporters, Maria Shriver, to launch a major inquiry into the stresses facing American women."

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