As we celebrate Women's History Month 2013, young women across the country are taking time to reflect upon the great progress our country has made since women were granted the right to vote nearly 93 years ago, but we also recognize the work that has yet to be done. As Republicans continue to support policies that restrict access to health care, family planning, and equal pay, women find themselves struggling to have their voices heard in the most basic and critical ways. And when women's voices are silenced, our economy suffers.
President Obama and the Democratic Party have long made women a priority. The very first bill the President signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helps women who face pay discrimination recover their lost wages. Though women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, they still only earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. President Obama is committed to ending this discrepancy, and has proven this by creating the Equal Pay Task Force to ensure that existing equal pay laws are enforced. The President is now putting pressure on Congressional Republicans to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year.
Though ensuring equal pay is a critical step in the fight for equality, the President is ensuring access to opportunities before women even enter the workforce. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of women enrolled in degree-granting institutions rose by 39 percent. Not only is President Obama working to ensure that every student is building the skills they need to enter an increasingly competitive workforce, he is taking steps to increase the number of women in underrepresented STEM fields by rewarding schools that demonstrate efforts to remove barriers to girls' participation in science and mathematics. Supporting and retaining America’s female scientists and engineers is also the goal of the National Science Foundation’s ten-year “career-life balance initiative.”
The Democratic Party knows that increasing participation in the workforce and allowing for a healthy work-life balance is just the beginning. Young women and girls need role models at the highest levels of women and government. I am so proud to serve as the President of the College Democrats of America, where I have the opportunity to speak with young women who, like me, hope to enter a career in public service. We have a strong leader in DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and President Obama has taken steps to ensure that young women across the country like us have strong role models in their government. From his previous appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State to his dedication to ensuring that women's voices continue to be heard through his second term in the Office of Management and Budget and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through new leaders Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Gina McCarthy, the President has been an advocate for gender parity in government. Young women like myself are working hard to ensure that women see more representation on the Hill and in the White House long after the President leaves office. His legacy is one of greater equality in Washington, and that legacy will be upheld for generations to come.