The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 08, 2010
Remarks by the President and the First Lady at International Women's Day Reception East Room
4:52 P.M. ESTh
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you so much. So I get to speak first while he stands and watches. I love this. Look at me adoringly.
THE PRESIDENT: I can do that.
MRS. OBAMA: With sincerity. Anyway.
I’m thrilled to see everybody here. Welcome, welcome. This is a wonderful event as we
celebrate Women’s History Month at the White House. It’s so exciting.
And let me start by recognizing all of the amazing leaders who have taken time out of their very busy days and schedules to be here with us today. We have our Cabinet Secretaries, congresswomen and other leaders who are serving as such powerful role models for the next generation.
But we have some of the members of the next generation here, as well, and I want to take a moment to acknowledge some of them, as well. We’ve got young people here from the Girl
Scouts, from Mount Vernon. From Mount Vernon and Hayfield Secondary in Virginia. From High Point High School in Maryland. From Eastern High School. And Georgetown Visitation here in D.C. All of you stand. Everybody stand.
I had a chance to meet with each and every one of them, to get a hug and a picture, and we talked. They are beautiful, they are inquisitive -- yes, it was a hug, it was a good hug. And what I told them is that they should make sure they take advantage of this evening by making sure that they take time out to meet all of you extraordinary women, right; that they come up and introduce themselves with confidence; and that you make sure you have a little fun, right? So you’re going to make that promise.
Make sure you get to meet everyone here today, because today all of you are joining the long line of incredible women who have graced these halls both as visitors and as residents, from admirals and actresses to civil rights pioneers -- my good friend, Dorothy Height, is here. Nobel Prize Winners -- you name it, this house has hosted some of the most accomplished women and some of the most accomplished Americans in the history of this country.
But we’re here today not just to pay tribute to leaders and icons and household names. During
Women’s History Month we’re also here to honor the quiet heroes who’ve shaped this country from the very beginning. We honor the women who traveled those lonely roads to be the first ones in those courtrooms, to be the first ones in those boardrooms, to be the first ones on those playing fields, and to be the first ones on those battlefields.
We honor women who refused to listen to those who would say that you couldn’t or shouldn’t pursue your dreams. And we honor women who may not have had many opportunities in their own lives, and we all know women like that: Women who poured everything they had into making sure that their daughters and their granddaughters could pursue their dreams; women who,
as the poet Alice Walker once wrote, “knew what we must know without knowing it themselves.” All of us are here today because of women like these who came before us. And during this
Women’s History Month, may we recommit ourselves to carrying on their work for our own
daughters and granddaughters, and also for our sons and our grandsons too.
Now, speaking of sons, it is my pleasure to introduce one of the few men in the room -- (laughter
and applause) -- my husband, and the President of the United States, Barack Obama.
THE PRESIDENT: That would be me. Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank
you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Please, have a seat. Let me
begin by just thanking some of the people who are participating here today. Michelle mentioned
my outstanding Cabinet members, the extraordinary members of Congress and people who are in
our senior White House team. I also want to thank Ms. Kerry Washington for emceeing
today. Give Kerry a big round of applause. Where is she? There she is.
Ms. Katharine McPhee, who’s going to be performing a song in the program. Where’s Katharine? She’s around -- she’s practicing. She’s here, I just saw her. Secretary Madeline Albright is here today. and Ms. Mozhdah Jamalzadah is also going to be
here performing a song in the program, so we want to thank her, give her a big round of applause.
And then there’s this lady here. FLOTUS, that’s what we call her -- FLOTUS. She is -- I’m biased, I acknowledge; but I think she’s a pretty good First Lady. Don’t you think? She’s pretty good. And I’m very sincere when I look at you adoringly. The story of America over the past 200 years -- past 233 years is one of laws becoming more just,
of a people becoming more equal, of a union being perfected. It’s a story of captives being set free and a movement to fulfill the promise of that freedom. It’s a story of waves of weary travelers reconsecrating America as a nation of immigrants. It’s a story of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters making the most of that most American of demands –- to be treated the same as everybody else. And it’s a story of women, from those on the Mayflower to the one I’m
blessed to call my wife, who looked across the dinner table, and thought, I’m smarter than that
The story of America’s women, like the story of America itself, has had its peaks and valleys. But as one of our great American educators once said, if you drew a line through all the valleys and all
the peaks, that line would be drawn with an upward curve. That upward curve –- what we call progress –- didn’t happen by accident.
It came about because of daring, indomitable women. Women like Abigail Adams, who brought
on the ridicule of her husband John by advising him to “remember the ladies” in our founding
documents. Women like the pioneers and settlers who, in the words of one, said, “I thought
where he could go, I could go.” Women like Dorothy Height and Sylvia Mendez and Betty
Friedan and Gloria Steinem and Sandra Day O’Connor and Madeline Albright, upending
assumptions and changing laws and tearing down barriers. Women like Hillary Rodham Clinton,
who, throughout her career, has put millions of cracks in America’s glass ceiling. It’s because of them –- and so many others, many who aren’t recorded in the history books –- that the story of America is, ultimately, one of hope and one of progress, of an upward journey.
But even as we reflect on the hope of our history, we must also face squarely the reality of the
present -– a reality marked by unfairness, marked by hardship for too many women in
America. The statistics of inequality are all too familiar to us -- how women just earn 77 cents
for every dollar men make; how one in four women is the victim of domestic violence at some
point in her life; how women are more than half the population, but make up only 17 percent of
the seats in Congress, and less than 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.
These, and any number of other facts and figures, reflect the fundamental truth that in 2010, full
gender equality has not yet been achieved; that the task of perfecting America goes on; and that all
of us, men and women, have a part to play in bending the arc in America’s story upward in the
I’m proud of the extraordinary women -- and the extraordinary Americans -- I’ve appointed to help take up this task. In addition to our outstanding Secretary of State, we’ve got Hilda Solis
serving where the first female Cabinet Secretary, Frances Perkins, once served, at the Labor
Department. We’ve got Kathleen Sebelius leading our Health and Human Services Department;
Janet Napolitano running the Department of Homeland Security. Susan Rice is our ambassador to
the United Nations. The chair of my Council of Economic Advisors is Christy Romer. We got
Lisa Jackson, who’s doing great work at the EPA.
We have just extraordinary talent all across this administration. And from health insurance
reform, to climate and energy, to matters of domestic policy, I’m seeking the counsel of brilliant
women. And that list doesn’t include, by the way, the Justice I appointed to the Supreme Court –-
Ms. Sonia Sotomayor.
So, yes, I’m very proud to have appointed so many brilliant women to so many essential posts in
our government. But I’m even prouder of what each of them is doing –- and what all of us are doing –- to make life better in America and around the world, because lifting up the prospects of
our daughters will require all of us doing our part. And that’s why we’ve established a new White
House Council on Women and Girls, chaired by my friend and senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett, that
will help make sure that every part of our government is working to address the challenges faced
by women and girls.
At a time when women are on the verge of making up the majority of America’s workforce, the
very first bill I signed into law -– a bill named after Lilly Ledbetter -– was designed to help keep America’s promise: If you do the same work as a man, you ought to be paid the same wage as a
man. To help parents balance work and family, we’re offering states more support for quality, affordable child care and paid family leave.
At a time when we are waging two wars and fighting a global network of hatred and violence, we
need the service of all those patriotic Americans who are willing to do their part. And that’s why Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen and top Navy officers decided to end an old
barrier against women, so our skilled and brave Navy women, as well as men, can serve on
At a time when it’s still legal for health insurance companies to discriminate against the victims of
domestic violence in eight states plus the District of Columbia, we’re seeking health insurance
reforms that would finally rein in the worst practices of the insurance industry. And I’m also
proud to note that I’ve appointed the first White House Advisor on Violence against Women, Lynn
At a time when the jobs of tomorrow will go to workers with the knowledge and skills to do them,
we’re ramping up efforts to educate our young people in science and technology, engineering and
math, and we’re making a special effort to recruit women to those fields -– because I want to see more teenage astronomers like Caroline Moore. In fact, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood
has launched a new partnership with Spelman College to train women engineers and help put them
to work rebuilding our highways and our infrastructure.
And since today happens to be International Women’s Day, it’s also worth mentioning what
Secretary Clinton, and Ambassador Rice, and this administration are doing on behalf of women
around the globe. We lifted what’s called the global gag rule that restricted women’s access to
family planning services abroad.
We’re pursuing a global health strategy that makes important investments in child and maternal
health. We sponsored a U.N. resolution to increase protection for women and girls in
conflict-torn countries –- to help make it possible for more women like Mozhdah, who traveled
from Afghanistan to join us here today -- to reach for their dreams. We created the first Office of
Global Women’s Issues at the State Department, and appointed Ambassador Melanne Verveer to
run it. We’re investing $18 million -- we’re investing $18 million to combat the unconscionable cruelties being committed against girls and women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And
next month, I’ll host an entrepreneurship summit to help fulfill a commitment I made in Cairo; a
summit that will focus, in part, on the challenges facing women entrepreneurs in Muslim
communities around the world.
We’re doing all of this not only because promoting women’s empowerment is one of the best ways
to promote economic development and economic success. We are doing it because it’s the right
thing to do. I say that not only as a President, but also as the father of two daughters, as a son and
a grandson, and as a husband.
Growing up, I saw my mother dedicate most of her life to promoting the rights and well-being of
women overseas; to empowering them to take more control over their economic lives and be able
to empower their families as well. I saw my grandmother work her way up to become vice
president at a bank in Hawaii, starting as a secretary, never had more than a high school
education. But I also saw how she hit a glass ceiling, and had to watch as men, no more qualified
than she was, rise up the corporate ladder.
Before we got to the White House, where we are grateful for the extraordinary support that we
receive from the White House staff, I’d see the challenges Michelle faced as a working
mom. And as usual, she handled it with grace and skill, but she’d be the first one to tell you it
wasn’t always easy balancing the responsibilities of being a hospital executive with those of being
a mother, and sometimes worrying about the girls when she was at work, and sometimes worrying
about work when she was with the girls.
And today, as I see Sasha and Malia getting older, I think about the world that they -– and all of
America’s daughters -– will inherit. And I think about all of the opportunities that are still
beyond reach for too many young women and too many of our brothers and sisters -- too many of
our sisters and mothers and aunts -- all of the glass ceilings that have yet to be shattered.
We have so much more work to do, and that’s why we’re here today. I think about this because it
reminds me of why I’m here. I didn’t run for President so that the dreams of our daughters could be deferred or denied. I didn’t run for President to see inequality and injustice persist in our
time. I ran for President to put the same rights, the same opportunities, the same dreams within
the reach for our daughters and our sons alike. I ran for President to put the American Dream
within the reach of all of our people, no matter what their gender, or race, or faith, or station.
If we can stay true to that cause, if we can stay true to our founding ideals, then I’m absolutely
confident that the line that runs through America’s story will, in the future, as it has in the past, be
drawn with an upward curve. And I’m especially pleased that these young ladies are here today
because they’re the ones who are going to help bend that curve towards justice and equality.
Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. END
5:11 P.M. EST
The White House
Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release
March 31, 2010
Remarks by the First Lady at Spring Garden Planting event
White House Garden
4:05 P.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Hey, guys. What’s going on? Are you awake?
MRS. OBAMA: Yes! What have you been doing? Just sitting here?
MRS. OBAMA: Did they let you have an apple?
MRS. OBAMA: Sam, what are you doing? You can have an apple. How about that? Way to start. Hi, everybody. Welcome to the White House! How many of you have been here before? Yes, I see my familiar faces. What’s going on? How was summer? How was the start of -- how was winter
break? How was Christmas? I haven’t seen you in a while. Was it good?
MRS. OBAMA: Are you ready to work?
MRS. OBAMA: How are my new faces? Let me see the new people. See some hands. Good to have you. Welcome.
Well, thank you. Thanks for coming here.
I wanted to start by thanking a couple of people besides you all, right.
Okay, the first -- I want to thank the President’s Cabinet members who are here today with
me: Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary Vilsack, this gentleman to my right. And the Secretary of
Health and Human Services, Secretary Sebelius. They have done so much to help us get the ―Let’s Move‖ campaign going, and I am so grateful for their support. Some of you have seen these guys around. You’ve seen Secretary Vilsack. He’s been at stuff with us. So they’ve been really helpful.
And I also have to thank Melody Barnes. Is Melody here? Melody is coming, but Melody has also been
a big help. She’s the President’s Domestic Policy Advisor, and she’s chair of the Childhood Obesity
Task Force, so she’s been a big help.
And I also want to thank somebody special who’s with us today, and that’s Christy Vilsack who is
Secretary Vilsack’s wife. Raise your hand, Christy, so the kids can see you. I know that Christy is a
really good cook, so she’s going to really be excited about what we’re going to plant, because she’ll really
know what to do with all the stuff that we plant.
And finally I want to thank all of you -- you guys. We’ve got our old familiar faces from Bancroft School who are here. Yay, Elementary School Bancroft. And we also have students from Hollin Meadows
Elementary School. Hey, guys.
Some of your classmates and some of you guys were part of helping us get the first garden ready,
right? You guys did all the hard work. And this year we’re ready to do it again. Can you believe it’s
been a whole year? Can you believe it? A whole year! You guys have grown so much! But I’m
excited you guys are here.
Just last year we began by getting -- what did we do first? The first thing you did when you came here,
what did we have to do? We had to get the soil ready, because if you remember, this was all
grass. And you remember we had to create those mounds because the soil wasn’t really ready to plant;
we didn’t even know if it was going to grow anything? So you guys helped us get the soil ready.
And then we came and we did what after the soil was ready? What did we do? What did we put in the
ground? We put some seeds in and we put some buds in. Last year we did broccoli. What else did we
CHILD: Sweet potatoes.
MRS. OBAMA: We did some sweet potatoes in the fall. What did we do in the spring? What were the
vines that came up? Peas! We did some peas. Sam knows. Very good, Sam. And we did some
onions. And we did a bunch of herbs. Don’t you remember we did chives and garlic and rosemary and all that good stuff? And for dessert, remember over there we planted all the berries? We have
blueberries and raspberries and blackberries.
And you guys remember the beehive that’s right over there that’s still there? We got good honey, and we used it to make a salad.
So then we did all that and we watched it grow. And wasn’t it amazing how it went from this to -- what? Do you remember what the garden looked like when we were tunneling through and
planting? Everything was high. Everything gets to be about my height.
So it is pretty exciting. So last October, with all the work that you guys did, you know what we were able
to do? We harvested over 55 different kinds of healthy foods -- 55 in that little piece of dirt -- 55. And
you know how many pounds of fruits and vegetables we harvested? Can you guess? Give me a
guess. What’s your closest guess? Yes.
CHILD: One hundred and four?
MRS. OBAMA: No, higher. What?
CHILDREN: Eight hundred?
MRS. OBAMA: Eight hundred? Close.
CHILD: Five hundred?
MRS. OBAMA: Higher.
CHILD: One thousand.
MRS. OBAMA: One thousand pounds. One thousand pounds of food. Can you imagine that? That’s pretty amazing.
So we learned a lot about how fun gardening was -- at least I did. I wasn’t really a gardener, and I’ve had so much fun. No matter where you live or what age you are, you can grow stuff. And also it’s pretty fun being outside here with all of you guys. I look forward to being outside in the sun. It’s getting a little hot now, but it’s good digging in the dirt, getting a little dirty, getting dirt under your nails. Remember we were pulling up those big leeks? What were those things we were pulling up? Some were potatoes, but
you were pulling up something heavy. What were those big root things we -- the fennel, that’s right. You remember the fennel that we pulled up?
So there’s nothing like watching tiny seeds grow into something amazing. But the thing is -- and I don’t know if you guys have been watching -- but the garden was about more than just planning healthy food,
right, because we were able to feed not just the staff at the White House, but we provided food to people
at homeless shelters. So we used that food to feed a lot of people. But we also began a conversation
about getting kids and parents and teachers all across the country thinking about living healthy.
So just think, the work that you did helped start a national and international conversation. You guys did
it. Everybody is talking about that garden, not just here in Washington, not just here in the United States,
but all over the world. And we’ve been able to start thinking about things like getting kids to try new
foods that they’ve never tried, vegetables that they’ve never had. You guys have been helpful in getting your families to think more healthy about what they eat, getting your communities to make different
decisions. We’ve also even started talking to schools about how do we make your school lunches even more healthy, right?
So everyone is really focused on this. We’ve even talked to the grocery manufacturers, the people that
make the food. And they’re trying to figure out how do they lower sugar and salt and fats in your food so
that you get healthy. Everybody is really focused on this.
So this has been great. And it’s because of the work that all of you guys have done. Would you ever imagine that what you did last year would lead to all of this? Would you? Could you? And we’re ready to do it again this year. Are we ready?
MRS. OBAMA: So we’re going to get started this year with our new group of students, because each of
you has a garden in your school. Bancroft, you guys have a garden, and you’re doing good work, and I got to go and visit your garden. You guys taught me some new things about planting and we worked
together. And I hope to visit your school again sometime this year or in the fall.
And you guys from Hollin Meadows, I got to visit your garden as well. You guys are doing some really
cool stuff with education and figuring out how to tie your garden in with science and math and
everything. How many of you guys from Hollin Meadows work in your garden? How many people have
helped with the garden? And that’s probably why you’re here.
So it’s important for you all to know that with the power of what you’re doing with gardening, you’ve got
the whole country talking about gardening and eating healthy.
So I am grateful to you all for the work that you’ve done. You’ve done an excellent job, and we couldn’t
do it -- I don’t think anybody would have paid much attention to this garden if it weren’t for you. So I am so proud of you all for what you’ve done, and we’re ready to get started again. And as a result of your efforts, we started this big campaign called ―Let’s Move,‖ where we’re asking parents to get better
information and make different decisions. We’re working with athletes who are going to start trying to
get you guys moving. We’ve asked you all to do your parts. We’ve asked you to make different
choices. We’ve asked you to turn off the TV a little bit and get more exercise and play
outside. Everybody is ready to do their part.
So you guys have just been a great support to us here at the White House, and I’m looking so forward to starting this garden for the second year. And hopefully we can make some more changes, we can get
more kids focused on eating healthy and we can educate the whole country and maybe even the whole
world. What do you think about that?
All right. So now I’m going to turn it over to Secretary Sebelius -- you’re next. And then Secretary
Vilsack is going to say a few things to welcome you guys, and then we’re going to get going, okay?
All right, so here’s Secretary Sebelius. END
4:14 P.M. EDT
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 30, 2010
Remarks by President Obama and President
Sarkozy of France during Joint Press Availability
4:56 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please, everybody have a seat. Good afternoon. Bienvenue.
I am delighted to welcome my dear friend, President Sarkozy, to the White House. And I also want to
welcome to the United States the First Lady of France, and Michelle and I are very much looking forward
to hosting our guests at dinner this evening.
Now, I have to point out that the French are properly famous for their cuisine, and so the fact that Nicolas
went to Ben’s Chili Bowl for lunch -- (laughter) -- I think knows -- shows his discriminating palate. My understanding is he had a half-smoke, so he was sampling the local wares. And we appreciate that very
This visit is an opportunity to return the hospitality that the President and the French people have shown
to me during my visits to France. And that includes our family’s wonderful visit to Paris last summer. Michelle and I will never forget the opportunity to introduce our daughters for the first time to
the City of Lights. And I don’t think that Sasha will ever forget celebrating her 8th birthday at the Élysée
Palace with the President of France. That's a pretty fancy way for an 8-year-old to spend their birthday.
Today, President Sarkozy and I have reaffirmed the enduring ties between our countries. France is our
oldest ally, and one of our closest. We are two great republics —- bound by common ideals —- that
have stood together for more than two centuries, from Yorktown to Normandy to Afghanistan.
Under President Sarkozy’s leadership, France has further secured its rightful place as a leader in Europe
and around the world, recognizing that meeting global challenges requires global partnerships. France took the historic step of returning to NATO’s military command, and we are working to revitalize our transatlantic bonds, including a strong, capable European Union, which the United States firmly supports -- because a close transatlantic partnership is critical to progress, whether it’s applying our combined strength to promote development and confront violent extremism in Africa, or reconstruction in Haiti, or advancing peace from the Caucasus to the Middle East.
Mr. President, on behalf of the American people, I also want to thank you for your personal efforts to strengthen the partnership between our countries. We first met four years ago. I was a senator then; Nicolas was still running for President at the time, and I immediately came to admire your legendary energy —- and your enthusiasm for what our countries can achieve together. That was the spirit of your
eloquent speech to Congress three years ago, which deeply moved many Americans.
Over the past year, the President and I have worked closely on numerous occasions. We respect one another and understand one another, and we share a belief that through bold yet pragmatic action, our generation can bend the arc of history toward justice and towards progress. And this shared
commitment to solving problems allowed us to advance our common interests today.
We agreed to continue working aggressively to sustain the global economic recovery and create jobs for our people. And this includes, as we agreed with our G20 partners at Pittsburgh, to replacing the old cycle of bubble and bust with growth that is balanced and sustained. And this requires effective coordination by all nations. To that end, I updated the President on our efforts to pass financial reform, and I look forward to the Senate taking action on this landmark legislation so we never repeat the mistakes that led to this crisis.
We must provide sufficient oversight so that reckless speculation or reckless risk-taking by a few big players in the financial markets will never again threaten the global economy or burden taxpayers. We must assure that consumers of financial products have the information and safeguards that they need, so their life savings are not placed in needless jeopardy. And that’s why I press for the passage of these
reforms through Congress when they return, and I will continue to work with President Sarkozy and other world leaders to coordinate our efforts, because we want to make sure that whatever steps we’re taking,
they are occurring on both sides of the Atlantic.
We agreed that sustained and balanced growth includes rejecting protectionism. France is one of our largest trading partners. And we need to expand global commerce, not constrain it. With that regard, we think it’s important that Doha trade negotiations move forward this year, and we need all interested parties to push for a more ambitious and balanced agreement that opens global markets. And we look forward to France’s presidency of both the G8 and G20 next year. So Nicolas is going to be very busy.
To address climate change, we agreed that all nations aligned with the Copenhagen accord must meet their responsibilities. And I would note that President Sarkozy’s leadership has resulted in significant
new resources to address deforestation around the world. Upcoming meetings at the United Nations and the Major Economies Forum will be an opportunity for nations to follow up their Copenhagen
commitments with specific and concrete actions that reduce emissions.