News / USA

Obama Challenges Women to Use Their Progress for Change

President Barack Obama reads over a program before delivering the commence address at Barnard College, New York, May 14, 2012.President Barack Obama reads over a program before delivering the commence address at Barnard College, New York, May 14, 2012.
x
President Barack Obama reads over a program before delivering the commence address at Barnard College, New York, May 14, 2012.
President Barack Obama reads over a program before delivering the commence address at Barnard College, New York, May 14, 2012.
WHITE HOUSE - President Barack Obama used a college commencement address in New York City on Monday to urge women to use economic and social progress they have made to bring about a better future.

Obama's address at Barnard College, a women's college that is part of Columbia University, combined words intended to energize and encourage female graduates with some sharp observations about the economy and political climate in the United States.

The president noted that women now comprise half of the U.S. workforce.  And he urged them to use their increased earning power and academic achievement to lead the way for change.

"More and more women are out-earning their husbands. You are more than half of our college graduates and masters graduates and Ph.D.s," Obama said. "So you have got us out-numbered. After decades of slow, steady, extraordinary progress you are now poised to make this the century where women shape not only their own destiny but the destiny of this nation and of this world."

Obama received his undergraduate degree from nearby Columbia College in New York City in 1983, an institution that he noted did not admit women until that year.

Despite growing opportunities, he said women face unique challenges, including achieving pay equality with men, and balancing demands of work with family, and "fully controlling decisions about your own health."

Obama spoke about the still difficult economy and a political and financial environment that he said can be discouraging.

"As young people, in many ways you have it even tougher than we did," he said. "This recession has been more brutal, the job losses steeper, politics seems nastier, Congress more gridlocked than ever. Some folks in the financial world have not exactly been model corporate citizens. No wonder that faith in our institutions has never been lower."  

The president indirectly added some 2012 re-election politics to his remarks. He aims to solidify support among women and younger voters in his contest with likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

"We know that we are better off when there are rules that stop big banks from making bad bets with other people's money, when insurance companies aren't allowed to drop your coverage when you need it most, or charge women differently from men," he said. "Indeed, we know we are better off when women are treated equally and fairly in every aspect of American life, whether it's the salary you earn or the health decisions you make."

The president's visit to New York also included a visit to a popular television program and an appearance at two fundraising events.

One of those took place at the home of pop singer Ricky Martin, an event co-sponsored by the LGBT Leadership Council, a group representing gay and lesbian Americans.

Obama last week announced his support for legalization of gay marriage, becoming the first American president to do so and boosting his support in the U.S. gay community which is an important source of contributions for his re-election campaign.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid