The newly established Gender Policy Council is anticipated to work across the board on governmental policy related to gender.
It has been roughly a month since the announcement from the Biden-Harris administration of its White House Gender Policy Council. As announced, the council is spearheaded by co-chairs, Jennifer Klein and Julissa Reynoso. During the Obama administration, a similar council called the White House Council on Women and Girls was created. Shortly after taking the presidency in 2016, Donald Trump disbanded that council. Now, Biden has reinstated a new council explicitly dedicated to working toward gender equality.
Many in the Democratic leadership heralded the new Council and its leaders as an important breakthrough. “Congratulations to Jen Klein, who’s long been by my side on domestic and global women’s issues, and Julissa Reynoso, a dynamo who served with me in the State Department,” said Hillary Clinton, in a post on Twitter regarding the Gender Policy Council leadership. “Great to have this team on the front lines fighting for women and girls everywhere.”
Ensuring Policies that Empower Women
The announcement itself provides more details about what to expect from the council. Most importantly, the announcement dedicates the council to viewing all issues as gender related issues, including health care, economic security, racial disparities, and foreign policy, to name just a few.
Integration With Other Policy Councils in Government
The council will be responsible for guiding all governmental policies with gender issues in mind, to ensure that these policies are favorable for attaining gender equality. In order to do this, the council will be working alongside other White House councils, including the Domestic Policy Council, National Economic Council and the National Security Council.
Julissa Reynoso, in addition to her title as co-chair of the Gender Policy Council, is also an assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to Dr. Jill Biden. The first lady has made it evident that one of the tasks she is focused on at the moment is overseeing that families that have been separated due to Trump’s “Zero Tolerance” policy are reunited. She plans to create a task force for this purpose, and has assigned Reynoso to keep track of these reunions. Inevitably, Reynoso’s involvement in this plan implies that the issue of migrant separations will be on the docket for the Gender Policy Council and its staff.
As of yet, the full strategy of the Gender Policy Council remains to be seen, but there is much reason to believe this government body will be particularly influential. Tina Tchen, Executive Director of the White House Council for Women and Girls under the Obama administration, spoke to Ms. Magazine about the new Gender Policy Council, painting a picture of what we might expect based on how the prior council under Obama operated.
Tchen noted that this newly formed council is more racially inclusive than its predecessor, and aimed more squarely at the younger generation with a strategy focused on young women and girls, and will be focused on both domestic issues and foreign affairs. The Council will also be looking at how policies impact TGNC (Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming) individuals.
Tchen also said that the Council will likely gain staff members dedicated to such specific issues as racial discrimination and gender-based violence. Tchen also speculated this council will likely not receive its own budget. Instead, it will receive funding through its work with agencies such as the Department of Education or the Department of Justice, and the funding will come through the budgets allocated for those agencies.
Does the Gender Policy Council Need Its Own Budget? A Good Issue for Women Funders to Watch
Given that we are reaching a new level of awareness about the value of women’s leadership, particularly in the COVID and post-COVID economies, it seems like the Biden Administration might do well to consider establishing a new budget dedicated to strengthening the impact of this Council. This will be a good issue for women donors to keep a close eye on, since pushing for a self-sustaining Council on Gender Policy would be a strong win for ensuring the ongoing survival of this work.
Meanwhile, Biden Fights for Women with Executive Orders
Outside of the Gender Policy Council, President Biden has been active in pursuing gender equality in his role as President. A number of executive orders have gone into effect, including such that discuss preventing and combating discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Biden has been open about his dedication to equality as it pertains to all genders, races, and sexual orientations, and these initial actions serve to prove that he will follow through with that promise. As for the Gender Policy Council itself, further action will be made as the months go by, and we’ll be watching closely.