The newest on Biden’s plans is his Gender Policy Council in the White House. Formerly known as the White House Council on Women and Girls during the Obama administration, the task force was dismantled during the Trump era.
In an interview with NPR, Jennifer Klein, now the council’s co-chair, said, “Major structural disruption requires major structural change. Thinking big right now is exactly what we need to do. So, now’s the time.”
Women’s rights groups hope that this new team will help complete some of the policies they’ve been after for a while, but, unsurprisingly, they will run into problems with a Congress where Democrats barely hold the majority.
What is on the council’s to-do list?
Restoring and expanding reproductive rights is at the top of the list, next to combating gender-based violence, reducing maternal mortality, and lastly, adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.
“We need to maintain a laser focus on the particular needs and priorities for women and girls. If you look at last month’s job numbers, women have lost jobs in historic numbers, particularly women of color, and the caregiving burden is falling disproportionately on women,” Klein added in regards to Biden’s coronavirus recovery plan that aims to benefit women with children by giving them paid family leave, more help for child care and the proposed $15 minimum wage.
As BELatina previously reported, women made up all of the 140,000 jobs lost past December. With both school and daycares closed, women were also forced to leave their jobs. Klein added that, while this is another collateral damage of the COVID pandemic, “the economic crisis and in fact, a caregiving crisis that’s been layered on top of it — these are core issues.”
For his part, President Biden recognized the urgency of bringing back the task force in a statement.
“Too many women are struggling to make ends meet and support their families, and too many are lying awake at night worried about their children’s economic future,” he said. “This was true before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the current global public health crisis has made these burdens infinitely heavier for women all over this country. The work of this council is going to be critical to ensuring we build our nation back better by getting closer to equality for women and to the full inclusion of women in our economy and our society.”
Finally, another upside to this new council is the Biden team’s decision to use gender-inclusive language, replacing “women” by “gender,” recognizing non-binary, intersex, and transgender people.