One order sets up a Gender Policy Council to combat gender based bias and discrimination and one ensures that students get an education free from discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, sexual violence and gender identity
On March 8, 2021, International Women’s Day, President Biden signed the following two Executive Orders (E.O.s) to promote gender equity and equality.
The E.O. establishes a Gender Policy Council which is tasked with implementing policies and programs to combat systemic bias and discrimination, including sexual harassment. The Council will address structural barriers to women’s participation in the workforce, wage gaps, and caregiver needs. The Council will also draft recommendations to address how the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women and girls based on their experiences in underserved communities.
Within 200 days of signing the E.O., the Council must develop and submit a strategy to address the above cited concerns. Following that submission, the Council will submit an annual report advising the President on progress achieved in implementing the strategy. A similar Council was originally set up during the Obama administration.
The E.O. establishes a policy to ensure that all students are guaranteed an education free from discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, sexual violence, and gender identity. Within 100 days of the signing of the E.O., the Secretary of Education must review existing policies, regulations, agency guidance, etc. to identify those that are inconsistent with the policy. The Secretary must also review the final rule, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance, issued on May 19. 2020, to determine if it is consistent with Title IX and the policy.
Throughout history, rights have not been granted automatically to many groups in society, especially women. They have been gained by extra effort – whether that’s advocating through protests, legislation, or Executive Order. With the first of these two E.O.s, the current administration is acknowledging that more has to be done to address the disparity that still exists between genders. In conjunction with the second E.O. that addresses discrimination in schools, there is an acknowledgment that our institutions don’t come by equality and equity on their own. Attention must be paid and effort made to ensure that mindsets like “survival of the fittest” or “because we’ve always done it this way” don’t cause or prolong the unequal treatment of others.
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