President Joe Biden marked this year’s International Women’s Day in a special way by signing executive orders that will promote gender equity in the United States and worldwide.
The president also spoke on the important role woman have in the world:
“In our nation, as in all nations, women have fought for justice, shattered barriers, built and sustained economies, carried communities through times of crisis, and served with both dignity and resolve. Too often, they have done so while being denied freedom, full participation, and equal opportunity all women are due.”
One of the executive orders puts in place a Gender Policy Council within the White House.
The order formulates an office Trump disbanded. Biden also gave it a greater punch.
The office was from the Obama administration, but Trump did away with it. At the time, it was called the White House Council on Women and Girls.
President Biden, however, has changed the name to Gender Policy Council on purpose. This was revealed by Council co-chair Jennifer Klein, who has worked on women’s issues for many years, including during the Clinton administration.
Klein explains that they are very inclusive in the way they define gender:
“We are very inclusive in our definition of gender. We intend to address all sorts of discrimination and fight for equal rights for people, whether that’s LGBTQ+ people, women, girls, men.”
Among the council staff will be a special assistant to the president whose focus will be on policies to promote equality for Black, indigenous, and Latina women, and girls of color. This will be in consideration of the historical and disproportionate restrictions these people experience in their daily lives.
COVID-19 Has Had A Huge Negative Impact On Vulnerable Groups
The occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how serious these inequalities are for these disadvantaged groups. Women have suffered the most when it comes to job losses and the increase in caregiving responsibilities.
President Biden recognizes that no country can recover from the pandemic if it leaves half of its population behind.
Setting up this council demonstrates that Biden and his administration are seriously committed to pursuing foreign policies founded on dignity and equity for women.
Julissa Reynoso will co-chair the council with Klein. Reynoso was Jill Biden’s chief of staff, and she has previously served under Hillary Clinton at the State Department.
Reynoso is a Dominican-American, and she served as a U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay during the Obama administration. She explains that the full participation of women and girls in society is “essential to the economic well-being, health and security of our nation and the world.”
To Reynoso, gender equity is a human rights, justice, and fairness issue.
The Council will focus on a number of things, including an increase in economic security and opportunities through the resolution of structural barriers to women’s participation in the labor force. The council will also try and address wage and wealth gaps, deal with the caregiving needs of American families, and support care workers.
The Second Executive Order
The president also signed another executive order that will help reverse a controversial rule issued last year by Betsy DeVos, former President Donald Trump’s education secretary. The rule pertains to campus sexual assault and harassment.
The civil rights law gave more rights and protections to those accused of sexual assault or harassment, and Biden was keen on changing this law.
The president signed an executive order directing the Department of Education to review all current regulations to ensure that the country had an educational environment that did not discriminate based on sex. This includes sexual harassment, which includes sexual violence.
The order also seeks to address discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Additionally, the order gives the Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, the power to suspend, revise or rescind any agency actions that go against that stand.
When Klein was asked if Biden’s administration would go on enforcing Devos/Trump-era rules, she explained that the new executive order asks the secretary of education to consider if it is necessary to rescind or revoke anything immediately.
So, it is not clear how long it will take before these controversial regulations are undone.
The signing of these executive orders is nothing new for Biden. The president has issued a record number of executive orders within his first few weeks in office.