By Janet Ekstract
WASHINGTON DC (TURKISH JOURNAL) – President Joe Biden’s new Gender Policy Council Co-Chair and Executive Director Jen Klein, lauded Biden’s newest organization, commenting: “this is a really unique council” because it is a “free-standing council” that Klein said “crosses both global and domestic issues.” She said the council is working closely with colleagues at the National Security Council, Domestic Policy Council and the National Economic Council and encompasses “a whole-of-government approach” to examine all issues related to gender equity and gender equality worldwide. In a press briefing on Thursday, entitled Advancing Gender Equity, Klein commented about the role of the new council and said the U.S. is “far behind many other countries” in areas where she explained that the rest of the world just takes for granted. Those two areas include paid medical leave and childcare, Klein emphasized and added “we are almost unique in not offering that to our workers.”
Klein said the Gender Policy Council was created by Executive Order and launched on March 8, International Women’s Day, which tasks the council to create a strategy within 200 days. Klein mentioned that a major part of creating a strategy will involve working in collaboration with stakeholders nationwide and globally to include civil society, foreign governments, multilateral organizations, philanthropic organizations as well as nonprofits and other related parties.
In addition, she said this also will involve Cabinet Secretaries and heads of agencies as well. She highlighted that women and girls and the most pressing issues they face, are now “front and center” on the council’s agenda. She pointed out that the council’s focus centers on three major issues: women’s economic security, gender-based violence and women’s health-reproductive rights and justice.
Women have been extraordinarily “hard hit by this pandemic” Klein said and added “because of the moment we are living in and because of this administration, we are working on this daily.” She commented, “workers who have long been essential have been recognized as essential” – adding that “women of color and low-paid workers need jobs with adequate pay and adequate dignity.” Klein reiterated that the health response to the COVID crisis is “deeply built into everything we’re doing.” She also said that economic issues are being addressed with what she deemed an “unprecedented focus” on gender and race equity. She explained that an equity-related data working group was created to examine the data so the real problems can be addressed and that this “forms the heart of any policy response.”
The crux of the program will also focus on race, ethnicity and income as a daily plan as well as building relations with foreign governments related to this program that will examine race, ethnicity and income as well. Klein highlighted a recent U.S. State Department human rights report that outlines the relationship between gender equality and human rights. She pointed out that the Gender Policy Council wants to incorporate those concepts into its policy, especially related to human rights as Klein commented it’s “an inviolable rule that human rights matter” as well as issues of justice and fairness, she said.
Klein highlighted that built into the executive order that created this council is working on gender equality through international diplomacy, development, trade, defense and a commitment to recognize the needs and contributions of women and girls as well as recognizing their needs in humanitarian crisis and development assistance while recognizing others around the world who are working to combat gender inequality. Klein summed it up when she said that if there was any moment that brings gender equity to the forefront it is the COVID pandemic that she said “has made these issues really visible in a way that it hasn’t before.”