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US Establishment of the White House Gender Policy Council

Policy Details

Policy Type: Executive Order
Jurisdiction: Federal
Status: Passed
Tags: Gender Justice, JEDI, Labor/Workforce, Public Health

Policy Summary

In early 2021, Executive Order 14020 establishes a comprehensive policy to advance gender equity and equality, recognizing it as a matter of human rights, justice, and economic growth. It mandated the creation of the White House Gender Policy Council to coordinate federal efforts to combat systemic biases, increase economic opportunities for women and promote gender equity in STEM fields, which are crucial for addressing climate-related challenges. Furthermore, the EO seeks to support caregiving needs, ensure access to comprehensive healthcare, prevent gender-based violence, and address the impacts of COVID-19 on women and girls. It stated the Council will also work to promote gender equality globally through various diplomatic and developmental means.

The Council was tasked with developing a government-wide strategy within 200 days (about 6 and a half months) to advance gender equity and equality. This strategy must include recommendations on policies and initiatives to address the needs of women and girls, particularly those from underserved communities. The Council would work closely with other federal entities to ensure that agency operations promote gender equity, provide legislative and policy recommendations, and improve data collection related to gender and gender identity. It would also engage with diverse stakeholders, including non-profit organizations, labor unions, and private sector representatives, to inform its work.

Implementation of the strategy involved reviewing and potentially revising federal programs and policies to align with gender equity goals.  Agencies will report progress semi-annually, and the Council will produce an annual report for the President and the public. Its first annual report National Gender Equity and Equality Strategy, released in 2023, details the Council and governments progress on these goals.

While there is still much work to be done, The President advanced women’s leadership in the Biden-Harris Administration itself, with the first gender-equal Cabinet in U.S. history. He nominated and the Senate confirmed Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court. In addition, President Biden has appointed a record number of women and people of color to the federal bench—75 percent of the judges confirmed during the first two years were women and 67 percent were people of color


Does the policy solution re-distribute power from mainstream institutions to impacted Black community?   

If the equity focus is implemented correctly, yes. For many women and girls, particularly Black women and girls, the journey to tackle 21st-century challenges like climate change and excel in the future workforce begins in school and extends into the workplace. The exclusion and structural barriers in STEM fields hinder access to lucrative and growing job opportunities, potentially disadvantaging another generation. This gender gap not only deprives nations of essential STEM solutions that focus on climate resilience, mitigation, adaptation and climate justice, but also silences the voices and needs of Black women and girls in the development and governance of modern tools that will help tackle climate change, such as the internet and artificial intelligence.  The administration released its first annual progress report in 2023. To bridge this, the EO had mandates such as Workplace Protections, which increased minimum wage and advanced pay equity. This is critical because in 2019, the latest year for which data is available, Black women earned 64 cents and Latinas earned 57 cents for every dollar earned by White men. Further workplace protections are included for pregnant workers, and empowering sexual assault survivors. There is also development in Advancing Women in Male-Dominated Sectors through USAID’s Engendering Industries program which promotes gender equality in various industries.

Does this policy address needs impacting diverse groups within Black communities (Black femmes, Black LGBTQ+ communities, Black immigrants, people in poverty, differently abled, people impacted by justice system)? If so, how?  

Yes, The Council could potentially impact Black veterans who are women through by promoting gender equity in federal budgeting and collaborating with the National Security Council on global gender equality issues and to end gender-based violence in the military, which disproportionally impacts women of color. The American military is one of the biggest users of fossil fuels in the world. It further supports LGBTQ+ folks, which countless Black people identify as, by strengthening non-discrimination protections and safeguarding LGBTQ+ individuals from workplace discrimination, protecting LGBTQ+ Children and Families by working to ensure access to gender-affirming healthcare, and address issues of youth suicide and homelessness.

Does this policy provide more decision-making power at the hands of Black communities?  

Yes. The coordinated federal efforts to combat systemic biases and focus on underrepresented groups like Black women and girls could increase economic opportunities for us, support caregiving needs, and promote gender equity in Climate and STEM fields where Black women can voices our needs and expertise. It also works to ensure access to comprehensive healthcare and specifically aims to address the maternal health crisis and the impacts of COVID 19 which disproportionately affects Black woman.

Does the policy undermine extractive economies like capitalism and restore community power around a local and regenerative economy/ primary production?  

Information that indicates this policy undermines the extractive economy and restores a regenerative economy was not found.

Does the policy repair past harm and uphold civil and human rights, health and environmental protections? 

This policy aims to address civil rights harms to Black women by tackling systemic barriers and exclusions in different sectors of government and industry such as STEM fields and across the military. It promotes culturally relevant education, new career pathways, and flexible work environments, and combats discrimination to make STEM more accessible. By increasing investment to close gender gaps in technology access, enhancing connectivity, and addressing mental health impacts of technology use, it mitigates historical digital divides and health disparities. Specifically, this policy seeks to mitigate the maternal health crisis disparity that affects too many Black women. The policy also fosters diversity and inclusion in the innovation economy through STEM skills development and entrepreneurial training and expands opportunities for Black women in research and development at community colleges and minority-serving institutions. These initiatives collectively aim to repair past harms.

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