The United State of Women, a summit hosted by the White House last week, was a like a good old-fashioned church revival with a go-girl message. A couple thousand women gathered in one room to drink from a geyser of oratory inspiration served hot by a cast as varied as the President and First Lady to Warren Buffet and a local Girl Scout troop. Oh, and Oprah! It wouldn't be a stirring spiritual gathering of women without Oprah. The two-day event was a call to action for America’s women. I could not help but be swept away by the electrifying flow of motivating stories and congratulatory cheers. Together, we were fueling the momentum started by beleaguered generations of women before us.
(Editor's Note: You can watch the full summit here.)
The most powerful speaker, of course, was the most powerful man in the land.
President Obama proclaimed that “progress is not inevitable,” which was a great message to the younger women who seem to imagine that bra burning and suffragette hunger strikes happened in the Pliocene age.
The President called today’s workplace policies “straight out of ‘Mad Men’” and urged that modernization requires companies “to recognize that today’s families and work arrangements come in all shapes.” It’s a plea worth repeating to HR officers everywhere:
“We need equal pay for equal work. We need paid family and sick leave. We need affordable child care. We’ve got to raise the minimum wage. If we’re truly a nation of family values, we wouldn’t put up with the fact that many women can’t even get a paid day off to give birth. We should guarantee paid maternity leave and paid paternity leave, too.”
Here are some of the most inspirational words I heard that day:
By then end, it was clear what a feminist looks like in 2016: A middle-aged African American man, an octogenarian billionaire, an 11-year-old CEO, and scores of women from across the country in every shape, size and shade. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the United State of Women.
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