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Biden to sign executive orders establishing Gender Policy Council and addressing sexual violence in education

President Joe Biden speaks on the economy in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNN) — President Joe Biden is set to sign two executive orders on Monday which will establish the White House Gender Policy Council and address sexual violence in the education field.

The orders, to be signed on International Woman’s Day, are aimed at ensuring gender equality and equity throughout the federal government at a time when women, particularly Black and Latina women, are being disproportionately afflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The full participation of all people, including women and girls, across all aspects of our society is essential to the economic well-being, health, and security of our country and of the world,” a senior administration official said while outlining the executive orders on Sunday night.

The White House Gender Policy Council will be specifically tasked with combating systemic bias and discrimination, including sexual harassment. The council’s broad scope includes tackling a slate of challenges like the structural barriers to women’s participation in the labor force, wage and wealth gaps and the caregiving needs of American families.

Health care concerns, equal opportunity in leadership and promoting gender equality worldwide through diplomacy will also fall under the council’s purview.

The executive order will require the co-chairs of the council to submit to the President a government-wide strategy to address gender in policies, programs and budgets, and an annual report to measure progress on implementing the strategy, according to a fact sheet released by the White House.

To prevent and respond to gender-based violence, there will be special assistants to the President and senior advisers on gender-based violence on the council staff.

The executive order will also require engagement with non-profit and community-based organizations, state and local government officials, tribal nations, foreign government officials and multilateral organizations, the fact sheet says.

“The White House Gender Policy Council will be an essential part of the Biden-Harris administrations plan to ensure we build a more equal and just society, aggressively protecting the rights and unique needs of those who experience multiple forms of discrimination, including people of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people,” the official said.

Biden’s other executive order, meanwhile, is aimed at advancing policies to guarantee education free from sexual violence.

The order will direct the US Education Department to review all of its existing regulations, orders, guidance and policies to ensure consistency with the Biden administration’s policy that students be guaranteed education free from sexual violence. The order also directs the Education Department to specifically evaluate the Title IX regulation issued under the previous administration which expanded protections for those accused of campus sexual harassment and assault.

Taken together, Biden’s executive orders underscore the urgency his administration has sought to bring to gender equality since taking office in January.

“The pandemic has exacerbated barriers that have historically impacted women and girls, especially women and girls of color, forcing many to leave the workforce, manage virtual schooling for their children and absorb additional caregiving responsibilities,” the official said Sunday, adding that the council will work across government agencies to make sure their policies create equity for woman of color in particular.

“As the country continues to grapple with the pandemic and reckons with the scourge of systemic racism and discrimination, President Biden knows that we need a government-wide focus on uplifting the rights of women and girls in the United States and around the world, restoring America as a champion for gender equity and equality.”

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