With the stroke of a pen, President Biden signed an executive order establishing the White House Gender Policy Council just in time for International Women’s Day. The objective of the Council is to manage federal government efforts to ensure and advance gender equity and equality.
The move mimics former President Obama’s initiative to create a White House Council on Women and Girls, which was later disbanded by President Trump. The Council will be co-chaired by Jennifer Klein, who has previously served in a number of leadership roles on women's issues, including at the State Department, and Julissa Reynoso, First Lady Jill Biden's chief of staff.
“I was proud to issue an executive order today establishing the White House Gender Policy Council, to ensure that every domestic and foreign policy we pursue rests on a foundation of dignity and equity for women,” President Biden said in a statement. “My Administration is also committed to ensuring that women are represented equally at all levels of the federal government.”
One of the Council’s objectives is to increase access to comprehensive health care, address health disparities and support sexual and reproductive health rights. In addition to healthcare goals, the Council will address myriad issues relating to systemic gender bias and stereotypes, economic security and wage parity for women, human rights, gender-based violence and caregiving needs.
Biden’s commitment to ensuring women are well represented in his Administration is clear. At the top, Vice President Kamala Harris broke barriers by becoming the first woman to hold the second highest office in the country. As of now, 11 women are in line for key positions in President Biden’s cabinet.
“Elevating the status of women and girls globally is the right thing to do—it is a matter of justice, fairness, and decency, and it will lead to a better, more secure, and more prosperous world for us all,” President Biden noted.
At the same time, Biden announced a second executive order to ensure education is free from sexual violence. It directs the Department of Education to review existing regulations, orders, guidance and policies to guarantee students are free from sexual violence in their education, as well as review Title IX regulations leftover from the Trump era.