A White House Council on Women and Girls was formed in 2009 under the Obama administration to ensure that government agencies were taking into account the needs of women and girls. Warren Farrell, who has served on the board of NOW in New York City and writes books about men’s and women’s issues, was asked to be an adviser to the Council. He agreed, but suggested the need for a White House Council on Boys and Men. He was invited to submit a proposal to create one.
Farrell got to work, and over the next 18 months put together a bipartisan group of 34 peopleto draft the proposal. He thought it was crucial that it be seen as a bipartisan issue, since everyone wants our children to do well. The 34 members selected consisted of political leaders and authors of the top books about men and boys. There was also the head of government relations for the Boy Scouts and the managing editor of Men’s Health magazine. Three political parties were represented; Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians, with diverse viewpoints including Jennifer Granholm, former Democrat governor of Michigan and co-chair of a Super PAC for Obama, and Christina Hoff-Summers with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
The Boy Scouts endorsed the proposal. Once a year, the Boy Scouts meet with the president and present a State of the Nation report to him. The group arranged to have an Eagle Scout deliver the proposal to the president. But just prior to the meeting in 2009, everything on the Boy Scouts’ agenda was approved except the proposal to create the council.
This represented but one of two times the White House has expressed a tremendous amount of interest in the council but suddenly nixed it. The Office of Public Engagement (that handles the Council on Women and Girls) and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had been very interested. But somehow the phone calls that had been set up to prepare for a presentation to the president were stopped. It appears that one or more people at the very top, just beneath Obama, have been blocking it from reaching the president over the past three years.
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