“Women of color struggle every day with biases that perpetuate oppressive standards for how they’re supposed to look and how they’re supposed to act. Too often, they’re either left under the hard light of scrutiny, or cloaked in a kind of invisibility.” – President Barack Obama
The White House is highlighting the litany of social and economic challenges facing African American women and girls while addressing the longstanding disparities among women of color. In a new report released Wednesday and entitled: “Women and Girls of Color: Addressing Challenges and Expanding Opportunity,” the Obama administration highlights the work they’ve done over the last six years to uplift women and girls of color, including the fight to increase the minimum wage and providing increased access to health screenings.
The White House’s ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ initiative to assist young Black men and men of color has received over $200 million in corporate support -but was criticized for its exclusion of women. Obama says he’s been helping women all along via The White House Council on Women and Girls, established in his first months in the White House.
In the report’s executive summary, Valerie Jarrett, a White House Senior Advisor who also serves as Chair of the White House Counsel for Women and Girls, said the overall well-being of women and girls of color has improved tremendously over the years. She said the number of businesses owned by women of color has skyrocketed, and women of color have ascended to the upper ranks of workplaces across many industries. Teen pregnancy rates for girls of color have plummeted, Jarrett said, and great strides are being made in education.
Since 2009, both fourth and eighth grade math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the largest nationwide assessment, have improved for all girls of color. Since 2009, the high school dropout rate has fallen by 16 percent for Black girls and 30 percent for Hispanic girls. Women of color make up 23 percent of all college students, yet they receive 34 percent of all Pell Grants, and in 2012, 3.2 million women of color received Pell Grants.