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U.S. President Barack Obama considers the advancement of women in society to be among his highest priorities, and the issue of women's rights is one of the central pillars of his administration's agenda. Since his assumption of office, President Obama signed into law a number of bills that are of special concern to women in the U.S., such as a law aimed at ending pay discrimination, and one to prevent violence against women. He also appointed women into 7 key cabinet positions.
President Obama has also acted to improve women's lives around the globe. Three days into his Presidency, Mr. Obama rescinded the U.S. policy, known as the Mexico City Policy, or the so-called “global gag rule”, which required foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive funds from the U.S. government to certify that they would not perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning, even if they used their own funds to do so.
He pledged to work with Congress to resume U.S. contributions to the United Nations Population Fund. And in an unprecedented move which reflects the high importance that this administration places on women's issues, the President named Melanne Verveer as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, a newly-created position that will focus on women’s political, economic and social equality around the world.
During his speech at Cairo University on June 4th, President Obama made it clear that women are as important to society as men:
"Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity – men and women – to reach their full potential."
In response to Mr. Obama's speech, the Organization of the Islamic Conference is making some changes, said OIC President Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu:
"Women's issues are of utmost importance, and we have convened 2 ministerial meetings on the subject of women. And we are establishing a department in OIC on the woman. And there will be an organization of women. It will be [a] specialized organ of OIC, established in Cairo."
It is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous. The United States supports any country that works to empower women and expand their access to education and full participation in the political and economic life of their nations.