President Obama at the 2012 Women's Leadership Forum
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Published on May 18, 2012
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It's fair to say that there's been a bit of talk of women and women's issues so far this year. And I've said before, I want to repeat, I think it's been oversimplified, women are not an interest group. Women shouldn't be treated that way. Women are half this country and half of its workforce. Your 80% of my household if you count my mother-in-law and I always count my mother-in-law. So I got a vested interest in making sure we do well.
As a father, the highlight of everyday for me is asking my daughters about theirs. Their hopes and their futures it's what drives me every single day when I step into the White House. Every decision I make is all about ensuring that all of our daughters and all of our sons grow up in a country that gives them the equal chance to be anything they set their minds to. A country where more doors are open to them than were open to us. When women make less than men for the same work that hurts families who have to get by with less and businesses who have fewer customers who can spend money there.
When the job doesn't offer family leave to care for a new baby or sick leave to care for an ailing parent --that burns all of us, it's not just a women's issue. When any of our citizens can't fulfill there potential because of factors that had nothing to do with their talent or character or work ethic --that diminishes us as a country. It says something about who we are as Americans. Let's look at some of the debates that we've already had this year instead of putting forward serious plans to help put more American back to work. A lot of those folks in the other party have chosen to re-fight battles we settled long ago.
This contraception fight in particular was illuminating, it was like being in a time machine. Republicans in Congress were going so far as to say an employer should be able to have a say in the health care decisions of it's female employees. Now we got governors and legislatures across the river in Virginia, up the road in Pennsylvania all across the country saying that women can't be trusted to make their own decisions. That pushing and passing bills forcing women to get ultrasounds even if they don't want one. If you don't like it the governor of Pennsylvania says, "You can close your eyes."? It's a quote. It's appalling. It's offensive, it's out of touch. And when it comes to what's going on out there your not going to close your eyes. Women across America aren't closing their eyes and as long as I'm president I won't either.
The days of male politicians controlling the health care decisions of our wives and our mothers and our daughters and our sisters --that needs to come to an end. So the choice between going backward and moving forward has never been so clear. As long as I'm president we're going to keep moving forward, you can count on that.
You don't have to take my word for it, you got my signature on it. Because something like standing up for equal pay for equal work isn't something I got to get back to you on, it's the first law that I signed. If you're willing to stick with me and fight with me and press on with me I promise you we will remind everybody just why it is America is the greatest nation on earth.
Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America.
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