UPDATE: 10:55 AM: Patricia Arquette, who gave an impassioned speech advocating equal pay for women at the Oscars in 2015, took the summit stage today to note this first White House United State of Women Summit is being held 100 years after women got the right to vote.
It took the “typical woman” until April 12 of this year “to earn what a typical man had made in 2015,” she noted. For African American women, that equal pay day will not arrive until August 2. For Latinas, it’s November 1. “This is economic suppression,” Arquette said, and helps explain why “we have 66 million women and children living in poverty and 33 million would not be if women were paid their full dollar.”
Last year the Boyhood star, accepting her best supporting-actress Oscar, brought Meryl Streep and others in the hall to their feet in applause, when she said, “To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”
Previous, 6:33 AM: Vice President Biden, author of the Violence Against Women Act, addressed the summit on the subject. “For many of you as for me, this has been the cause of our lives,” he said. “We have a worldwide problem, It’s not just a problem in the United States. I’ve thought about this since I got
engaged in this in 1970. It’s ultimately about the abuse of power…We have to give women and girls a greater voice. But that’s not enough. We have to ensure that their voices will be heard…Every single solitary thing a man can do, a woman can do as well,” Biden said emphatically. “If we free women with the same opportunity, we free men, we free humanity. That is not hyperbole, that is a fact.” Biden went on to speak powerfully and compassionately about the crisis of rape and the issues of blaming the victim and of “being believed,” as well as the longterm health effects of sexual assault.”Violence against women is a crime pure and simple,” he said, enumerating steps of progress in dealing with the issue. “Changing laws isn’t enough,” he said. “We have to change the national culture. We have to take off the social blinders that make it easy for people to overlook sexual violence.”
Earlier: Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s senior advisor and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, is slated to give the keynote this morning at the day-long “United State of Women” summit at the White House.
A strong contingent of Hollywood women is on hand to contribute with speeches and panels covering employment opportunity, equal pay and the representation of women and girls in films and television. Among them: Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rimes, Amy Poehler, Mariska Hargitay, Connie Britton, Patricia Arquette, Kerry Washington and Sophia Bush. Also on the speakers’ list: President Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Jarrett and Tina Tchen, Chief of Staff to the First Lady and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, opened with
a tribute to the dead and injured in Orlando. “We will continue to free our country of bigotry, hatred and violence,” Jarrett said, asking for a moment of silence.
Later today, Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey will hold a conversation about the various issues on the summit agenda. Deadline will have more coverage as the day progresses. Britton will address a session on health and wellness; Patricia Arquette, Kerry Washington, Sophia Bush and Amy Poehler will speak on economic opportunity, civic engagement, leadership and visibility.