White House Women’s Update: Happy Women’s History Month & VAWA!‏

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White House Women’s Update: Happy Women’s History Month & VAWA Reauthorization Passes!

Friends-

We hope this message finds you well. Happy Women’s History Month! Today marks the beginning of a month dedicated to honoring the women who have made our country great and the moments that have defined this nation.

vawa-logoThursday was a great day for women across the country with the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passing in the House of Representatives, following the Senate’s passage of the same bill.

Also this week, the Department of Labor announced the rescission of “Compensation Standards” and “Voluntary Guidelines.

Today marks the beginning of a month dedicated to honoring the women who have made our country great and the moments that have defined this nation. You can find the President’s Women’s History Month Proclamation here.

Best wishes,

The White House Council on Women & Girls

President Obama Holds a Press Conference to Address the Sequester

President Obama held a press conference this morning after meeting with Congressional leaders to talk about his plans to move the country forward in light of the severe budget cuts that will start to take effect today.

These cuts, which are known as the sequester, will hurt our economy and cost us jobs, the President said. And as Americans all across the country work hard to keep our economic recovery going, arbitrary cuts to services and investments that businesses and workers depend on makes that far more difficult. As the President said:

“None of this is necessary. It’s happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made. They’ve allowed these cuts to happen because they refuse to budge on closing a single wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit. As recently as yesterday, they decided to protect special interest tax breaks for the well-off and well-connected, and they think that that’s apparently more important than protecting our military or middle-class families from the pain of these cuts.”

Read the President’s complete remarks here.

Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Passed by Congress
On Thursday there was exciting news for women across the country with the reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act passing in the House of Representatives. This bill, which the Senate has already passed, supports the reduction of domestic violence and the improved treatment of rape victims, extending these protections to members of the Native American and LGBT communities.

The President and Vice-President both released statements praising the bill’s importance for the country. Here is the President’s complete statement:

“I was pleased to see the House of Representatives come together and vote to reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act. Over more than two decades, this law has saved countless lives and transformed the way we treat victims of abuse. Today’s vote will go even further by continuing to reduce domestic violence, improving how we treat victims of rape, and extending protections to Native American women and members of the LGBT community. The bill also reauthorizes the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, providing critical support for both international and domestic victims of trafficking and helping ensure traffickers are brought to justice. I want to thank leaders from both parties – especially Leader Pelosi, Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Senator Leahy – for everything they’ve done to make this happen. Renewing this bill is an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear, and I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk.”

US Labor Department Rescinds Restrictions On Investigating Pay Discrimination
This week, the U.S. Department of Labor announced exciting news for women and all Americans. The Department is resending two documents, commonly known as the “Compensation Standards” and “Voluntary Guidelines,” that have dictated how pay discrimination can be investigated. This change will enable to Department of Labor to identify and remedy more forms of pay discrimination.

“Today, we are lifting arbitrary barriers that have prevented our investigators from finding and combating illegal pay discrimination,” said Patricia A. Shiu, a member of the President’s National Equal Pay Task Force.

The Department of Labor also plans to release new guidance for employers that will explain the procedures, analysis and protocols that will now be used in conducting compensation discrimination investigations.

“A strong American middle class hinges on ensuring equal pay,” said acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris. “As President Obama has made clear, everyone – including the wives, mothers, sisters and daughters among us – must be paid fairly and without discrimination. These new standards will strengthen our ability to ensure that women and men are fully protected under our nation’s laws.”

The new approach will enable investigators to better examine practices and available evidence to uncover discrimination.

Read the complete News Release here.

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