A Proclamation from the President: The 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, which was signed into law on September 13, 1994. The President issued a proclamation commemorating that anniversary. You can read the full text of that proclamation below. Twenty ... Read more »

Investing In Women and Girls Is An Investment In Our Future

Ed. Note: This blog is cross posted from The Huffington Post

Ayo Megbope is a graduate of Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Women program, and the owner of “No Leftovers Nigeria”, a catering company and restaurant in Lagos, Nigeria. Photo provided by “Goldman Sachs | 10,000 Women”

Ayo Megbope is a graduate of Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Women program, and the owner of “No Leftovers Nigeria”, a catering company and restaurant in Lagos, Nigeria. (by "Goldman Sachs | 10,000 Women”)

With a broad smile, and a gleam in her eyes, Ayo Megbope sat beside me, and shared story after story about the humble beginnings of her business, cooking bean cakes in her fourth-floor apartment, wrapping them in banana leaves, and selling them throughout her community in Lagos, Nigeria.  It was September of 2009, and we were seated together at the first annual Goldman Sachs “10,000 Women” Dinner in New York City.  Ayo was one of the first graduates of the 10,000 Women program, which helps women entrepreneurs around the world obtain the training and access to capital they need to turn their business dreams into reality.

Almost exactly four years later, I was back in New York City, forging partnerships, and working to secure new public and private sector commitments to promote the success and empowerment of women and girls.

My first stop was to co-host a United Nations General Assembly event with Secretary of State, John Kerry, and U.S. Ambassador at Large for Global Women's Issues Cathy Russell, marking the one year anniversary of the day former Secretary Hillary Clinton and I launched the Equal Futures Partnership.  Equal Futures was developed in response to President Obama’s call at the 2011 UN General Assembly, for his fellow heads of state to join him in breaking down economic and political barriers that prevent women and girls from reaching their full potential. 

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President Obama at the Memorial Service for Victims of the Navy Yard Shooting: “We Can’t Accept This”

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On Sunday, President Obama spoke at a memorial service to honor the victims of the Navy Yard shooting, and to thank first responders for their work.

“We know that no words we offer today are equal to the magnitude, to the depths of that loss,” the President told the families of the victims. “But we come together as a grateful nation to honor your loved ones, to grieve with you, and to offer, as best we can, some solace and comfort.”

President Obama explained that this is the fifth time since taking office that he’s grieved with communities ripped apart by gun violence:

And so, once again, we remember our fellow Americans who were just going about their day doing their jobs, doing what they loved -- in this case, the unheralded work that keeps our country strong and our Navy the finest fleet in the world. These patriots doing their work that they were so proud of, and who have now been taken away from us by unspeakable violence.

Once more we come together to mourn the lives of beauty and to comfort the wonderful families who cherished them. Once more we pay tribute to all who rushed towards the danger, who risked their lives so others might live, and who are in our prayers today, including Officer Scott Williams. Once more our hearts are broken. Once more we ask why. Once more we seek strength and wisdom through God's grace.

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Weekly Wrap Up: “We’ll Meet That Task”

Watch the West Wing Week here.

Mexico & Costa Rica Trip: On Thursday, President Obama started a three day trip to Mexico and Costa Rica for his first visit to Latin America of the second term. During the trip, the President hopes to reinforce the deep cultural, familial, and economic ties we share with Mexico and Central America.

Yesterday, the President had a bilateral meeting with Mexican President Peña Nieto at Palacio National in Mexico City. The bulk of his discussions in Mexico will cover the economy, and in Costa Rica, the President will meet with Central American leaders, who are important partners in improving foreign policy and the economy.

Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, previewed the trip before leaving Washington. Check out the video on YouTube.

Transportation Secretary Nominated: On Tuesday, the President nominated the Mayor of Charlotte, Anthony Foxx, for Transportation Secretary.  As mayor, Foxx modernized the electric train service to Charlotte’s downtown area, expanded the international airport, and extended the city’s light rail system. The President hopes cities can mimic the work done in Charlotte to attract more business, create more jobs, and stay competitive in the global economy.

Our top priority as a nation right now is doing everything we can to grow our economy and create good jobs and rebuild opportunity for the middle class. And one of the best ways we can do that is to put more Americans back to work rebuilding our infrastructure.

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Senate Votes to Block Expanded Background Checks for Gun Sales

Surrounded by Americans whose lives and families had been forever changed by gun violence, President Obama spoke from the Rose Garden about today’s Senate vote on expanded background checks for gun sales.

A few months ago, in response to too many tragedies -- including the shootings of a United States Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, who’s here today, and the murder of 20 innocent schoolchildren and their teachers –- this country took up the cause of protecting more of our people from gun violence.

Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders –- not just to honor the memory of their children, but to protect the lives of all our children. And a few minutes ago, a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn’t worth it. They blocked common-sense gun reforms even while these families looked on from the Senate gallery.

“A majority of senators voted “yes” to protecting more of our citizens with smarter background checks,” President Obama said. “But by this continuing distortion of Senate rules, a minority was able to block it from moving forward."

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Weekly Wrap Up: “We Stand Together”

Watch the West Wing Week here. Middle East Trip: On Wednesday, President Obama embarked on a five day journey to Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. The President began his visit with an arrival ceremony at the Ben Gurion airport followed by a visit to... Read more »

Weekly Wrap Up: “We Don’t Have a Moment to Waste”

Watch the West Wing Week here.

International Courage Awards: Last Friday, the First Lady joined Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department for the International Women of Courage Awards—where nine different women were honored. The event was a celebration of the strength and sacrifice of individuals who have worked tirelessly for the advancement of women’s rights for all.

Trade Export Council: On Tuesday, President Obama touched base with business and government leaders at a meeting of the President’s Export Council.

“The good news is we are well on our way to meeting a very ambitious goal that we set several years ago to double U.S. exports,” said the President. “And what we know is, is that a lot of the growth, a lot of the new jobs that we've seen during the course of this recovery, have been export-driven.” 

To maintain and ignite growth, President Obama discussed finishing new trade deals with Europe and the Asia-Pacific. The Administration signed legislation in 2011 supporting free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama which has kept America competitive in foreign trade, while creating jobs for Americans.

Sultan of Brunei: On Tuesday, President Obama welcomed His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei to the Oval Office for a bilateral meeting to share their desire for “a strong, peaceful, prosperous Asia-Pacific region.”

Brunei, a small country in the South China Sea, will be holding the ASEAN East Asia Summit meeting in October. The visit is a symbol of the President’s goal of working towards a peaceful and prosperous presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Weekly Wrap Up: “This is Your Victory”

Watch the West Wing Week here. Violence Against Women Act: On Thursday, President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act of 2013, which provides resources for thousands of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalkin... Read more »

Vice President Biden Meets with Law Enforcement Officials in Philadelphia

Vice President Joe Biden holds a roundtable with law enforcement officials and members of congress on gun safety, at Girard College in Philadelphia, PA, Feb., 11, 2013. (Official White ... Read more »