Wellesley College President H. Kim Bottomly Visits the White House
in Honor of Women's History Month

March 12, 2010

CONTACT: Molly Tarantino
mtaranti@wellesley.edu; (781) 283 2901

WELLESLEY, Mass.— On Monday, March 8, a day of global celebration of women, Wellesley College President H. Kim Bottomly had the honor of joining other notable women leaders at the White House at a reception hosted by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

President Bottomly observed International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month with women in the Obama administration, members of Congress, leaders of women’s organizations and future women leaders.

First Lady Michelle Obama opened the event, remarking, “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.’”

President Barack Obama reflected on the extraordinary women throughout American history who paved the way, including those currently serving in his administration. Progress for women has come about because of “daring, indomitable women,” including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Wellesley College class of 1969, he said.

“Women like Hillary Rodham Clinton, who, throughout her career, has put millions of cracks in America’s glass ceiling,” he said.  “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.”

President Obama also discussed the challenges that still remain to the achievement of gender equality in the United States and worldwide. He issued a proclamation at the event, available here, reaffirming the nation’s commitment to women’s rights.

“We have so much more work to do, and that’s why we’re here today,” said President Obama. “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.” (To view the full remarks of the president and first lady, visit www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/honor-international-women-s-day .)

“I appreciated the remarks by the president and first lady,” President Bottomly said. “They both eloquently celebrated the hard-won strides and triumphs of amazing women who have dedicated their lives to advancing women’s causes worldwide. On this occasion, I felt as I often do when I’m at Wellesley – exhilarated to be among a group of gifted women committed to changing the world.”

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Wellesley College class of 1959, was on hand to discuss how the United States can organize across borders of nation and background to achieve real breakthroughs for women.

“Secretary Albright pointed out that merely having legislation or proclamations of equality is not enough; that we must work together to ensure that where equality and parity have been codified, they must be practiced,” President Bottomly said. “She added that where there is no such recognition, we must act together on behalf of those women of the world who have no voice — the need for dignity and respect is universal.”

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 75 countries.