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White House celebrates Women’s History Month

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ObamaPresident Barack Obama has hosted a reception to celebrate Women’s History Month.

The reception was held in the White House on 18 March following a panel discussion, which was moderated by MSNBC Political Analyst Alex Wagner.

The panel featured a variety of inspirational women, including activist Dolores Huerta, astronaut Sunita Williams and basketball player Tamika Catchings, who shared their success stories.

Anna Maria Chávez, the CEO of Girl Scouts, and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the Mayor of Baltimore, were among the other accomplished women who attended the reception.

Amanda McMillan introduced Obama, who was accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama, and spoke about suing her employer after she was denied a promotion because of her gender.

Obama’s speech focused on the progress that women have made throughout time.

He remarked: “When I look around this room, it is hard to believe that 100 years ago this month, thousands of women were marching right outside this house demanding one of our most fundamental rights: the right to vote, to have a say in our democracy.

“And today, a century later, its rooms are full of accomplished women who have overcome discrimination, shattered glass ceilings and become outstanding role models for all of our sons and daughters.”

Obama went on to praise Melanne Verveer for her role as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, which involves prioritising females in political decision-making and foreign policy.

He said: “We are so grateful for her service, along with the millions of women around the world that she helped to amplify and helped to fight alongside on the causes that are so important.”

Obama announced that he will nominate Cathy Russell to become the next Ambassador-at-Large, who he is certain will be “a powerful voice on behalf of women and girls around the world”.

Russell is currently Chief of Staff to Dr Jill Biden, the Second Lady, and has worked on preventing violence against women and supporting women who have survived civil strife, conflict and war.

Obama reminded the audience about his own commitment to protecting women from violence, having reauthorized the 1994 Violence Against Women Act on 7 March.

He informed them that this law will secure for women.

“The protections and the services to help them live their lives free from fear of violence and free to pursue their own measure of happiness.”

The end of Obama’s speech concerned the necessity of continuing the progress made so far.

He said: “All of you inspire me to make sure that I’m doing everything that I can as president to carry on that progress, and to do everything we can to ensure equality and opportunity for all women.

“And that’s what everybody deserves in this country – the opportunity to make of their lives what they will, no matter who they are, what they look like, whether they are boys or girls, women or men.

“That’s why I ran for president in the first place – to put the same rights and opportunities within the reach of all of our daughters and sons.”

The reception at the White House was just one of many events held so far during Women’s History Month, which celebrates women’s achievements in history and society every year in March.

Events have included book readings, film screenings, exhibitions, plays, talks and workshops.

The theme for this year’s History Month is ‘Women inspiring innovation through imagination’, which celebrates women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

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