Obama pitching for the women’s vote
Much is being made of the fact that President Obama spoke yesterday at the commencement (or graduate) ceremony at the women-only Barnard college in New York.
He specifically addressed issues of concern to these graduates, saying that “as young women” they would have to grapple with “whether you’ll be able to earn equal pay for equal work; whether you’ll be able to balance the demands of your job and your family; whether you’ll be able to fully control decisions about your own health”.
He urged them not just to “fight for your seat at the table” but to “fight for a seat at the head of the table” to change outdated policies not just in many workplaces, but also in Congress.
Referring to some of the virulently anti-women policies pursued by Republicans over the last few years, President Obama suggested that “one reason we’re actually refighting long-settled battles over women’s rights is because women occupy fewer than one in five seats in Congress”.
And he urged his audience to help other women advance in the workplace by acting as mentors and role models.
“Until a girl can imagine herself, can picture herself as a computer programmer, or a combatant commander, she won’t become one.
“Until there are women who tell her, ignore our pop culture obsession over beauty and fashion and focus instead on studying and inventing and competing and leading, she’ll think those are the only things that girls are supposed to care about”.
The speech is being interpreted as a very political move on the President’s part, tapping into both the youth vote and the women’s vote ahead of the presidential election in November.
Obama already has an advantage over his Republican rival in terms of his support among women. A poll in April this year showed that 54 per cent of women under 50 support him, compared to 36 per cent for Mitt Romney.