April 5th, 2012
10:02 PM ET
For the third year in a row, the White House is holding a conference focused on women but they insist politics has nothing to do with it.
The White House Council on Women and Girls is hosting the White House Forum on Women and the Economy where business leaders, education leaders, and Cabinet secretaries will discuss a gamut of issues from healthcare to workplace flexibility to help for small businesses run by women. President Obama will address the diverse group of participants when he gives the keynote remarks in the morning session.
There will also be breakout sessions where there will be further discussions on ways to help women's lives better through economic and social policy. Several Cabinet secretaries, like Attorney General Eric Holder and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis will lead panel discussions.
The White House will also be releasing a 55-page report on all the ways various departments and agencies have implemented policies to benefit women. Some examples of those initiatives are focusing on equal pay for women, affordable college education, tax cuts that benefit women, and healthcare policies, like the recent controversial coverage of contraceptives.
A senior administration official says the president in interested in these topics and the work of the council because he "comes by it naturally." The president was raised by a single mother and also "he is married to a strong woman who juggled her career and her family and now has two wonderful daughters who he hopes will have the best and equal opportunities in life," the senior administration official added.
Critics say this conference is just part of the president's political plan to appeal to women in an election year. The White House insists this has been planned for months and is just part of his overall focus since he created the Council for Women and Girls in the beginning of his administration.
“So why are we focusing on small businesses with a Small Business Job Creation Act? Are we discriminating against big businesses?,” Jay responded. “We’re focusing on women because there are a number of issues that are important with regards to women in the economy, women’s safety, women in education, that are very distinct and important, and we’re proud to host the conference.”
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