Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Pat on the Back -- and a Proposal

President Barack Obama has established a new interagency panel devoted to the concerns of women and girls. The panel’s mandate will be to make sure that all federal agencies take into account how their policies and actions affect women and girls. “We need to take a hard look at where we’re falling short,” Obama said.

According to Politico’s Josh Gerstein, Obama said the new White House Council on Women and Girls would be chaired by his longtime friend and senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett. The director of public liaison at the White House, Tina Tchen, is to serve as executive director of the group. “It will meet on a regular basis,” the president said, without elaborating.

Good for Obama for taking this action.

Now, let’s see something on the same model for disability issues, which cut across government departments and agencies. There has been an interagency committee on disability research, but it falls short of the scope of this new council on women and girls. Plus it functions at a departmental and agency level outside the White House.

Clearly, with issues ranging across civil rights enforcement, education, housing, employment, health, transportation, Social Security, to name a few, a Council on Disability with high visibility in the White House might go a long way toward making good on a lot of promises made since the ADA was signed in 1990.

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