Obama to put women's issues 'front and center' in address
January 28th, 2014
07:10 PM ET
10 months ago

Obama to put women's issues 'front and center' in address

(CNN) - Working women and their struggles will form a major part of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night, CNN has learned, underscoring the important role women play both in Obama's domestic agenda and his party's hopes for this year's midterm elections.

During his speech, Obama will call for an end to the wage gap between men and women. On average, women earn 77 cents to every dollar a man makes in the workplace

He will also highlight the struggles working moms face providing for their families.

The theme runs throughout the speech and extends to the White House's guests, who sit with the first lady in the House chamber.

Those invited almost always get a mention, often to illustrate a point he wants to make to Congress.

The guests this year reflect both the strides made by women and the struggles they face.

Mary Barra, who last month became the first female chief executive of a major American automaker – General Motors, will join Michelle Obama in the first lady's box, as will Sabrina Simone Jenkins, a single mom who worked her way through college after serving in the Air Force.

"I think we need to focus more on women who are trying," Jenkins told CNN as she arrived in Washington on Monday. "They're living almost from paycheck to paycheck and they're trying to do the best that they can, you know they're trying to go back to school, trying to raise children."

Jenkins said she would like to hear Obama say "that he knows that women are struggling."

It's not a new message for Obama, who in 2012 highlighted issues like equal pay and education on the campaign trail, and captured strong support among women in winning reelection.

That deficit didn't go unnoticed by Republican leaders, who conceded their party needed to do a better job appealing to women.

Tuesday's Republican response to the State of the Union will be delivered by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the number four House Republican who in November became the only member of Congress to give birth three times while in office.

Democrats up for re-election this November are desperate to maintain their advantage among women, which they'll need if they want to keep control of the Senate.

Obama's strength among women will take on particular importance for Democrats after support for the party faltered following the faulty rollout of Obamacare.

Earlier this month, Senate Democrats asked the President directly to highlight women's issues this year as a way to bolster their key voting bloc.

According to Valerie Jarrett, Obama's senior adviser, the message Tuesday to women will just be one part of his overall message on combating inequity.

"He often says, look, we're half the workforce. Women are now graduating college at the same rate, if not higher, than men. Graduate school, a higher rate. Yet there are still women only earning 77 cents on the dollar. And that basic inequality is troubling to him," she told CNN in an interview. "People shouldn't be left behind because of their ZIP code and certainly their gender."


Filed under: President Obama • State of the Union
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    Pretty impressive speech. Too bad goopers have decided it is more important to hurt Americans than to give the president any help getting out of the republican recession.

    January 28, 2014 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  2. Wes

    Tampa Tim

    Smitty – So far, 14 million who were uninsured, have been able to get health care, despite the efforts and lies of the right wingnuts.
    -----------------------------------------------
    14 million? I think it is closer to 3 million, and over 6 million policies were cancelled. Therefore, minimum, 3 million people have lost their health insurance because of obama care.

    January 28, 2014 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
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