Obama Tells Women Grads "Fight for Your Seat at the Table"

The president addresses Barnard College graduates with a 'go-fight-win' pep talk

President Obama is finding all sorts of venues to get out his re-election message to women voters. So what better place to talk about women's issues than at a women's college commencement? Barnard College in New York City welcomed the president as this year's commencement speaker, following in the footsteps of others who've addressed Barnard grads like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with a message that can be summed up in one word -- fight.

Why is that significant? Barnard College president Debora Spar told MSNBC's Morning Joe program she hoped that Obama will address the issues that so many young women face today, like breaking through the professional glass ceiling, and the President didn't disappoint.

After a quick notation in his speech that women still have a long way to go and many battles still to fight, the president reminded these graduates that in the workplace they're about to enter, they'll still have to grapple with issues like equal pay for equal work and whether they have to pay more for insurance coverage than men.

As he acknowledged all the challenges they, and so many other college graduates, face in today's economy, President Obama recognized that the challenges are even greater for them in a world where so few women hold positions of power and influence. So he gave them three pieces of advice --  Fight for your seat at the table.  Never underestimate the power of your example. Persevere.

An interesting call to action from a leader who more often than not has been seen as being more about the process of change rather than the actual struggle. But in urging these women to fight for themselves he gave them an interesting reminder -- that America was founded on the idea of struggle, and that our country's founding documents leave room for those not specifically mentioned -- in this context, women -- to speak out and take action to change that.

Clearly, this was the start of a new campaign season effort to engage young women in the president's effort to keep the White House for another four years. But he'll have to do more than just ask for the efforts of these and other women. If President Obama expects women voters to be united in his fight, he'll have to make it clear that he's on their side, as well, especially when it comes to the fair pay and level playing fields.

You can read more from iVillage iVote Editor and Correspondent Joanne Bamberger at her blog, PunditMom. Joanne is also the author of the Amazon bestseller Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook!

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