The New York Times, March 12, 2009
By RACHEL L. SWARNS
WASHINGTON -- The White House celebrated women on Wednesday.
President Obama signed an executive order creating a White House Council on Women and Girls, to help eliminate the challenges they face and to ensure that cabinet level agencies coordinate their policies and programs that affect women and families.
A few hours later, the first lady, Michelle Obama, joined Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to present the Secretary of State's Award for International Women of Courage. The honorees included women representing Afghanistan, Guatemala, Iraq, Malaysia, Niger, Russia, Uzbekistan and Yemen.
Mr. Obama said the work of ensuring full equality for women was far from done.
He said that women still earned just 78 cents for every dollar men make and that one in four experience domestic violence. ''When these inequalities stubbornly persist in this country, in this century, then I think we need to ask ourselves some hard questions,'' he said.
In her remarks at the State Department, Mrs. Obama said, ''The president and I share the belief that communities are only as strong as the health of their women.
''Every day, we see what happens to families, communities and countries when women don't have access to health and medical care; when they don't have the resources to properly care for their children; when they are oppressed and struggling with emotional, physical, sexual and psychological abuse; when they have no access to education or fair treatment in the justice system.''
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