(CNSNews.com) - President Obama made it personal in Florida on Thursday, as he spoke about his efforts to make sure the U.S. economy "rewards the hard work of women."
"And I want to make sure my daughters are getting the same chances as men. I don't want them paid less for doing the same job as some guy is doing. When they have children, I want to make sure that they're not having to quit their jobs or, you know, in some other fashion be hampered because we don't have the kinds of policies in this country that support them."
Obama also spoke about his wife's difficulty in balancing work and family:
"When Michelle and I had our girls, you know, we gave everything we had to try to balance raising a family and chasing careers, but I'll be honest with you -- it was harder for her than it was for me because, you know, when she was with the girls she'd feel guilty about am I doing everything I need to be doing on the job. When she was at work, she'd feel bad about, you know, are the girls missing me. And you know, I know Barack's, you know, messing up somehow. (Laughter.) You know, so she's calling to check, and --" (laughter).
And he recalled his single mother's struggle "to put herself through school and make ends meet and raise my sister and me the right way. And she couldn't have done it if it weren't for my grandparents, and the biggest -- the most important breadwinner in my family was my grandmother, who worked her way up from being a secretary to being the vice president of a bank, never got a college degree, but then hit a glass ceiling at that local bank where she worked. So she trained men to eventually be her boss, even though she knew a lot more than they did."
Obama noted that women will soon outnumber men in the nation's "highly educated" workforce.
"But the thing is, our economy hasn't caught up to that reality yet. So we've got too many women who work hard to support themselves and their families -- including the 20 percent of women enrolled in college who are trying to raise kids while earning a degree. And they're facing unfair choices or outdated workplace policies that are holding them back."
Obama says women must receive "equal pay for equal work," and he plugged the "Paycheck Fairness Act," which -- among other things -- would require the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to "collect from employers pay information data regarding the sex, race, and national origin of employees for use in the enforcement of federal laws prohibiting pay discrimination."
President Obama said women deserve workplace policies that protect their right to have a baby without losing their job. "A woman deserves to take a day off to care for a sick child or a parent without running into hardship." He said Congress should ensure that "folks who work hard every day" get paid leave to take care of their families.
He also urged Congress to raise the minimum wage.
"And on each of these issues, members of Congress will have to choose between helping women and families get ahead or holding them back."
President Obama is hosting a White House Summit on Working Families this summer, in the run-up to the midterm elections.