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Obama: Women are 'Not an Interest Group'

President Obama addresses White House Forum on Women and the Economy, April 6, 2012.

The White House is hosting a conference Friday to highlight ways the Obama administration has "helped create economic security for women," which coincides with the release of a report on women's progress under his administration.

Opening the White House Forum on Women and the Economy, Valerie Jarrett, chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, said President Barack Obama has taken "historic steps" to appoint more women to key positions and empowered them to drive policy promoting the interests of women and girls both at home and abroad.

"Women make up nearly half of the workforce, and they're the breadwinners for a growing number of families," said Jarrett. "So it's clear that the success of women in America is critical to the success and sustainability of our families, of our communities and of the national economy."

Friday's conference comes at a key time for the president, a speaker at the forum, as he campaigns for re-election. Recent public opinion polls have shown women supporting Obama over Republican front-runner Mitt Romney.

Asked Thursday about the political implications of staging an event focused on women during an election year, White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed the idea that the forum is political.

"This administration has engaged in a number of policy approaches designed to address women in the economy, including the very first bill that the President signed into law, the Lilly Ledbetter Act Fair Pay Act," he said.

The president created the White House Council on Women and Girls in March of 2009. The stated mission of the council is to provide a coordinated federal response to the challenges facing women and ensure federal agencies pay attention to the way their policies impact women and families.

Obama said its purpose is to ensure that American women and girls are treated fairly in all matters of public policy.