In July, Glamour Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive sat down with President Obama to talk about the issues that are most important to women in this election, from jobs and the economy to educational opportunity, health care, and reproductive rights.
Here’s what the President had to say about how he’s working to grow educational and economic opportunity for women:
GLAMOUR: Back in 2008 you told Glamour that your mother once said, and I’ll quote, “the best indicator of whether a country does well is how it treats its girls and its women.”
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Still believe it.
GLAMOUR: So, by your mother’s standards, give me a thumbnail sketch of how America is doing.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, when I came into office, we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. Now the economy has grown for two and a half, three years, and the unemployment rate has begun to come down, but we've got a lot of people who are still out of work, men and women.…What I've tried to do is make sure not only that the economy is growing but also that everybody gets an opportunity. And that means passing the Lilly Ledbetter Act.
GLAMOUR: Your first bill.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: My first bill, to make sure that women are getting the same pay for the same work.…We expanded Pell Grants for students from low-income families and set up tax credits so that middle-class families could better afford college. We’re actually seeing more women than men in not only undergraduate but also professional schools, graduate schools. But if they’re burdened with $25,000 or $35,000 worth of debt when they graduate, that’s a problem.
The President reaffirmed his belief in women’s right to make our own health care decisions, and talked about the link between access to contraception and women’s economic security:
GLAMOUR: Why do you think contraception is so controversial politically? Virtually every woman of childbearing age in this country uses it.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, you’re probably going to have to ask the folks who find it controversial. Look, I’ve got two daughters, and I want to empower them to make good decisions. They’re not going to make good decisions because somebody in Congress is restricting their access to health care. They’re going to make good decisions because hopefully they've been raised wisely and trust their parents enough to have open conversations as they grow up.
I think in the minds of most Americans—men and women—access to contraception should be a no-brainer. Part of the reason we included that in our health care reform bill is that it affects every¬body. It’s also an economic issue. For a woman of childbearing age, $250, $300 is a lot of money and could make the difference as to whether you can pay the rent.