Full Text Obama Presidency February 28, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Presidential Proclamation Women’s History Month, 2013

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Presidential Proclamation — Women’s History Month, 2013

Source: WH, 2-28-13

WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH, 2013

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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

For more than two centuries, our Nation has grown under the simple creed that each of us is created equal. It is a notion that makes America unlike any other place on earth — a country where no matter where you come from or what you look like, you can go as far as your talents will take you.

Women’s History Month is a time to remember those who fought to make that freedom as real for our daughters as for our sons. Written out of the promise of the franchise, they were women who reached up to close the gap between what America was and what it could be. They were driven by a faith that our Union could extend true equality to every citizen willing to claim it. Year after year, visionary women met and marched and mobilized to prove what should have been self-evident. They grew a meeting at Seneca Falls into a movement that touched every community and took on our highest institutions. And after decades of slow, steady, extraordinary progress, women have written equal opportunity into the law again and again, giving generations of girls a future worthy of their potential.

That legacy of change is all around us. Women are nearly half of our Nation’s workforce and more than half of our college graduates. But even now, too many women feel the weight of discrimination on their shoulders. They face a pay gap at work, or higher premiums for health insurance, or inadequate options for family leave. These issues affect all of us, and failing to address them holds our country back.

That is why my Administration has made the needs of women and girls a priority since day one — from signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to helping ensure women are represented among tomorrow’s top scientists and engineers. It is why we secured stronger protections and more preventive services for women under the Affordable Care Act. It is why we have fought for greater workplace flexibility, access to capital and training for women-owned businesses, and equal pay for equal work. And it is why we have taken action to reduce violence against women at home and abroad, and to empower women around the world with full political and economic opportunity.

Meeting those challenges will not be easy. But our history shows that when we couple grit and ingenuity with our basic beliefs, there is no barrier we cannot overcome. We can stay true to our founding creed that in America, all things should be possible for all people. That spirit is what called our mothers and grandmothers to fight for a world where no wall or ceiling could keep their daughters from their dreams. And today, as we take on the defining issues of our time, America looks to the next generation of movers and marchers to lead the way.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2013 as Women’s History Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month and to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, 2013, with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities. I also invite all Americans to visit www.WomensHistoryMonth.gov to learn more about the generations of women who have shaped our history.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.

BARACK OBAMA

Full Text Obama Presidency March 8, 2012: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Speech at the International Women of Courage Awards

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks at the International Women of Courage Awards

Source: WH, 3-8-12

Earlier today, First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at the International Women of Courage Awards at the Department of State. Please see below for her remarks, and don’t forget to check out President Obama’s 2012 Proclamation on Women’s History Month.

Thank you. Thank you so much. Good morning, everyone. To say it is a pleasure to be here with all of you today would be an understatement.  This is truly an important opportunity, it is an uplifting opportunity, and I am happy to be a part of it every single year.

And I have to start by thanking Secretary Clinton not just for that very kind introduction, but she has been an outstanding — should I say that again? — an outstanding Secretary of State. And she has been an inspiration to women and girls around the world. She is a role model for me in so many ways.  I don’t think she realizes how what she has done has made what I am doing partially possible. So with all the respect and admiration that I can give to her, I will be wherever she needs me to be, whenever she needs me to be there.

I also want to join in recognizing our special guest, First Lady Mills, who is a dear friend. We enjoyed our visit to Ghana. And she is going to have a productive stay here in Washington, so she’s going to be busy. Just take it easy.  And of course, Secretary Vanda Pignato, who is a dear friend as well.  We are honored to have you with us as well.  I also want to thank them for taking the time to be here today.  It means so much to us all for you to be here.

I have to thank Ambassador Melanne Verveer for her terrific work she is doing — what she is doing for  — for Global Women’s Issues. This event is top-notch, and it wouldn’t happen if not for her. We are so grateful.

And of course, I want to recognize most of all the ten Women of Courage that we’re honoring here today. These women come from all different corners of the globe. They have taken very different journeys to this moment. But they are all here today because somewhere along the line, they decided they could no longer accept the world as it is. And they committed themselves to fighting for the world as they know it should be. They saw corruption, and they worked to expose it. They saw oppression, and they worked to end it. They saw violence, poverty, discrimination, and inequality — and they decided to use their voices, and risk their lives, to do something about it.

And day after day, these women have stood up and said the things that no one else could say, or would say.  Year after year, they endured hardships that few of us could bear.

At the age of 22, Zin Mar Aungwas imprisoned for 11 years simply for writing a letter demanding that the elected civilian government take power in Burma.  When she was freed, she went right back to work, fighting for the rights of women and ethnic minorities and political prisoners.

Shad Begum founded a women’s NGO in Pakistan, and she ran for district council. When she won, she intended to use her position to improve health care and education.  But when the council met, she was forced to sit in a separate side room, behind a locked door. The microphone that was supposed to allow her to participate never worked.  But undeterred, she decided to run for an even higher elected office, saying — and this is her quote — “Whatever it takes, I will make them hear me.”

And then there is Jineth Bedoya Lima, an investigative journalist in Colombia.  Back in 2000, when she was writing about an arms struggling [sic] network, she was kidnapped, brutally assaulted for hours by those who wished to silence her. But instead of backing down, she moved from her regional newspaper to a national one, and despite continued threats against her life, she kept reporting. She became a spokeswoman for a global campaign against sexual violence.  And for 12 years, she’s fought to hold her attackers responsible for their crimes.

She has even taken her case all the way to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, seeking justice not just for herself, but for women across her country.

And that is why, despite the risks they face, despite the hardships they endure, these women carry on — because they know that they are fighting not just for their own rights and freedoms, but for the rights and freedoms of so many others. That is why, despite daunting physical obstacles, Safak Pavey didn’t just win a seat in parliament in her own country; she traveled to countries across the globe, winning support for the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She lives her life by a simple motto — these are her words: “Whatever you experience is an example to others.”  Whatever you experience is an example to others.

The same can be said of Pricilla de Oliveira Azevedo. Despite being one of just a few women in the Rio de Janeiro military police, she has risen through the ranks, commanding more than 100 male officers. We love that. Working in one of the toughest communities in the city and even arresting a gang of criminals who kidnapped her.  Women of all ages have been inspired by her leadership, and of them she says — again a quote — “They see me as an example of the fact that any woman can work in any type of activity. It’s just a question of wanting to do it.”

And that is why each year we invite young people to join us at this event.  It is so important because we want them to learn from and be inspired by the example of these women of courage.

We invite them because we want them — we want to say to them and to boys and girls across America that if, despite all the obstacles these women of courage face, if they are still running for office and running organizations and serving their communities and their countries, then surely you can find a way to follow your dreams. Surely, you can find a way to give back to your community and to your country. If these 10 women can endure death threats and horrifying violence and years behind bars to stand up for what they believe in, then surely our young people can find a way to stand up for what they believe in.  Surely, all of you can overcome the obstacles you face in your own life.

And I’m thinking particularly of Jineth Bedoya Lima and what she endured on that day 12 years ago. As her attackers assaulted her, they said to her, “Pay attention. We’re sending a message to the press in Colombia.” Well, today, with every story she writes and with every public appearance she makes, Jineth is sending her own message that she will not back down, that she will not give up, and she will never, ever allow her voice to be silenced.

And it is the same message that all of these women are sending with every act of courage they commit -– the message that injustice will not stand, that inequality will not be tolerated, and that they will not stay silenced in the face of evil.

And to all of those who are oppressed and abused and left out and left behind, they are saying:  I am standing with you. I am fighting for you. You are not alone.

And on this International Women’s Day, that is the very message I wish to send to these 10 women and others like them in every corner of the globe.

On behalf of my husband and our country, I want you to know that you are never, ever alone. The United States of America stands with you. And we are so incredibly proud of everything that you have achieved.  And we will continue to fight with you for the causes to which you have devoted your lives.

So thank you all so much.  Enjoy this day. Congratulations. God bless. Now, before I sit down, I have one important honor. I get to introduce two more women of courage who have received the highest honor for their work –- our 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman.  Please, let’s welcome them to the stage.

Full Text Obama Presidency March 1, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Women’s History Month Proclamation

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Women’s History Month Proclamation

Source: WH, 3-1-12

As Americans, ours is a legacy of bold independence and passionate belief in fairness and justice for all. For generations, this intrepid spirit has driven women pioneers to challenge injustices and shatter ceilings in pursuit of full and enduring equality. During Women’s History Month, we commemorate their struggles, celebrate centuries of progress, and reaffirm our steadfast commitment to the rights, security, and dignity of women in America and around the world.

We see the arc of the American story in the dynamic women who shaped our present and the groundbreaking girls who will steer our future. Forty-one years ago, when former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt confronted President John F. Kennedy about the lack of women in government, he appointed her the head of a commission to address the status of women in America and the discrimination they routinely faced. Though the former First Lady passed away before the commission finished its work, its report would spur action across our country and galvanize a movement toward true gender parity. Our Nation stands stronger for that righteous struggle, and last March my Administration was proud to release the first comprehensive Federal report on the status of American women since President Kennedy’s commission in 1963. Today, women serve as leaders throughout industry, civil society, and government, and their outstanding achievements affirm to our daughters and sons that no dream is beyond their reach.

While we have made great strides toward equality, we cannot rest until our mothers, sisters, and daughters assume their rightful place as full participants in a secure, prosperous, and just society. With the leadership of the White House Council on Women and Girls, my Administration is advancing gender equality by promoting workplace flexibility, striving to bring more women into math and science professions, and fighting for equal pay for equal work. We are combating violence against women by revising an antiquated definition of rape and harnessing the latest technology to prevent dating violence, domestic violence, and sexual assault. From securing women’s health and safety to leveling the playing field and ensuring women have full and fair access to opportunity in the 21st century, we are making deep and lasting investments in the future of all Americans.

Because the peace and security of nations around the globe depend upon the education and advancement of women and girls, my Administration has placed their perspectives and needs at the heart of our foreign policy. Last December, I released the first United States National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security to help ensure women play an equal role in peace-building worldwide. By fully integrating women’s voices into peace processes and our work to prevent conflict, protect civilians, and deliver humanitarian assistance, the United States is bringing effective support to women in areas of conflict and improving the chances for lasting peace. In the months ahead, my Administration will continue to collaborate with domestic and international partners on new initiatives to bring economic and political opportunity to women at home and abroad.

During Women’s History Month, we recall that the pioneering legacy of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers is revealed not only in our museums and history books, but also in the fierce determination and limitless potential of our daughters and granddaughters. As we make headway on the crucial issues of our time, let the courageous vision championed by women of past generations inspire us to defend the dreams and opportunities of those to come.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2012 as Women’s History Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month and to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, 2012, with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that honor the history, accomplishments, and contributions of American women. I also invite all Americans to visit www.WomensHistoryMonth.gov to learn more about the generations of women who have shaped our history.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.

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