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​Women’s History Month at The White House: #FemaleRoleModels

​Women’s History Month at The White House: #FemaleRoleModels

I recently had the pleasure of attending a special reception in honor of Women’s History Month at The White House. At the reception, President Barack Obama said, 

"We have people here who've been working together to advance women's equality for decades, as well as members of a rising generation of activists and advocates and leaders who are picking up the mantle, taking the baton, and they are moving things forward." 

I couldn’t agree more. The women, both past and present, who filled the halls of the East Wing, will serve as a great inspiration to me as I continue to play my role in eliminating gender inequality.

Ellevate Network, a global professional women’s network, strives to raise awareness about the strong women who have inspired all of us. Women who have laid down the path for our current conversations around women’s rights and the women who continue to break boundaries, have the courageous conversations about inequalities in the workplace, and strive for change.  When we asked the Ellevate Community to name the most important quality in a role model, 36% said integrity & ethics, 23% said resilience, and 18% said courage & risk taking.

The Women Who Have Inspired Us

Walking through the halls of the East Wing, I came upon portraits of former First Ladies in the Vermeil Room. I gain inspiration from these groundbreaking women who used their political influence to drive change. During their time in the White House:

  • Nancy Reagan led the charge to end drug abuse and convened the First Ladies of 17 countries to focus international attention on drug use which impacts 16 million women each year in the US.
  • Hillary Clinton led the Task Force on National Health Care Reform where she advocated for expanding health insurance coverage, childhood immunizations, and public awareness of health issues.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt fought for civil rights, for unemployed women and youth and to give women a voice in politics.
  • Lady Bird Johnson was active in the war-on-poverty, especially the Head Start project for preschool children.

Women Who Continue to Inspire Us

At the reception, I was energized by the women in the room. Women passionate about equality, about investing in other women, and about pushing boundaries. In attendance were:

  • Nancy Pelosi who is the only woman to have served as the House Speaker and who is currently the highest-ranking female politician in American history.
  • Valerie Jarret, Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, who is committed to driving change that benefits women such as ending sexual assault, raising the minimum wage, advocating workplace policies that empower working families, and promoting entrepreneurship and early childhood education.
  • Cecile Richards, the President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, who, as President Obama said, “is making sure that women’s health care is on the front burner.”
  • Sana Amanat, Director, Content & Character Development at Marvel Entertainment who co-created Marvel's first solo series to feature a Muslim female super hero.
  • Dr. Jennifer Welter who is the first female to coach in the NFL (Arizona Cardinals)
  • Kathryn Smith, the first full-time female coach in NFL history (Buffalo Bills)
  • Annie Clark and Andrea Pino, the Founders of End Rape on Campus, an organization that advocates for fair and equitable sexual assault and interpersonal violence policies and legislation on the campus, local, state, and federal levels.
  • Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association who is working to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. It is important to note that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year.

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These women represent just a handful of the amazing change-makers in attendance – women committed to gender equality, to equal rights for women, to progress.

I encourage you to use the hashtag #FemaleRoleModel to tell us about the women that have inspired you. 


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