One of the key focuses of the Biden-Harris administration is gender equality, and this last week the administration made major moves in addressing gender discrimination.
On International Women’s Day, President Joe Biden signed two executive orders that aim to greatly benefit women. Women, especially women of color, were hit hard in the last year, and have seen record job loss and increasing mental health struggles. These executive orders will hopefully help alleviate some of the burden caused by the ongoing pandemic, and continue to help build a more equal world.
The first establishes the White House Gender Policy Council. The council will focus on tackling systemic biases and issues of discrimination that continue to hold women back. This includes many challenges like the wage gap, caregiving and familial needs, and sexual harassment.
These struggles need to be addressed in a big way after 2020 did a number on women in the workforce. More than 2 million women have been laid off or forced to leave their jobs since last February, setting women’s participation in the workforce all the way back to the 80’s. The wage gap has been an ongoing problem, and will only widen with so many women out of work. Black women have been hit especially hard by the financial hardships of the pandemic.
The Council will address many issues faced by women, not just financial or workplace struggles. The Gender Policy Council is set to address many of the ongoing oppressions faced by American women.
“The White House Gender Policy Council will be an essential part of the Biden-Harris administration’s plan to ensure we build a more equal and just democracy by aggressively protecting the rights and unique needs of those who experience multiple forms of discrimination, including people of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people,” Julissa Reynoso, co-chair of the Gender Policy Council and chief of staff to the first lady, said at a White House briefing.
The second executive order from earlier this week has to do with education and sexual violence. The Trump administration caused a lot of upset when then Education Secretary Betsy Devos issued a Title IX regulation that provided those accused of sexual assault and violence with additional protections. Now the Biden administration plans to review this regulation, and advance policies that guarantee everyone is entitled to an education free from the threat of sexual assault or violence.
As we begin to pick up the pieces of the last year, policies that uplift girls and women are imperative in moving forward. The new Gender Policy Council is another step by the Biden administration to work toward gender equality and a more equitable and fair world for all.