A star-studded push for gender equality

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From Oprah Winfrey to an 11-year-old Internet sensation who started her own company, more than 5,000 women are participating in the first-ever United State of Women Summit at the White House.

As part of the June 14 summit, more than two dozen companies — including Airbnb, Amazon, American Airlines, Dow Chemical and Pepsico — have agreed to undertake a yearly company-wide gender pay analysis aimed at eliminating inequitable compensation.

Girl holding laptop computer and leaning against lemonade stand (© AP Images)
Mikaila Ulmer talks about her company, Me & the Bees, and being a young entrepreneur. (© AP Images)

The aim is to promote gender equality in the United States and abroad.

Winfrey is participating in a conversation with Michelle Obama titled “Trailblazing the Path for the Next Generation of Women.”

The youngest official participant will introduce the president: Mikaila Ulmer, the 11-year-old founder of the company Me & the Bees Lemonade, based in Austin, Texas. Her lemonade got picked up by the nationwide grocery chain Whole Foods Market.

The commitments from the private-sector companies, foundations and organizations and the federal government total $50 million.

The project includes a tool kit that Harvard Law School’s Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program will develop for community college students across the country, so women can become better prepared to negotiate for higher salaries when they enter the workforce. The nonprofit group CARE has pledged $15 million to help educate 3 million adolescent girls in six countries.

The federal government also finalized a Labor Department rule on what constitutes sex discrimination among federal contractors and subcontractors, the first update to the regulations since the 1970s. The rule addresses everything from pregnancy-related accommodations to prohibitions on discrimination based on a person’s gender identity.

This article draws on reports from the Associated Press.