First Lady Jill Biden is calling on women over 50 to take bold action on behalf of future generations — and not to take our daughters’ or granddaughters’ futures for granted.
"You think I'm going to tell you to sit back, relax, do exercise. No. I have a list of things I want you to do," Biden said Wednesday during a discussion with Know Your Value founder and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski. “...We’ve got to work harder, we can’t just sit back.”
Biden, 70, made the remarks in New York City on Wednesday at an event celebrating Forbes and Know Your Value’s “50 Over 50” inaugural List, which launched in the summer. The list featured 50 women over the age of 50 who have achieved significant success later in life, often by overcoming formidable odds or barriers.
They conversed in front of a crowd of about 100 attendees, which included list honorees and other notable women including civil rights activist Opal Lee, Heineken USA CEO Maggie Timoney and Beautyblender founder Rea Ann Silva and more.
Biden’s call for action to the audience included fighting for workplace and educational initiatives, whether by promoting diversity, offering scholarships or by supporting expansive childcare. Further, they should encourage younger women to become involved in public service, Biden said.
“I know I always say that I'm not political, but I have to say this: We have to teach younger women how important it is to be involved in public service because we have to get more women elected to Congress," she said. "We have to get more women elected to Congress. We need more women on the Supreme Court.”
The first lady continued, “You cannot take it for granted that things are going to change. You have to continue to work as hard as you can. You’re already doing a lot, but my God, it’s so worthwhile when you look where we’re going for our girls, our granddaughters, our sons and grandsons.”
Biden drew upon her own career as an English teacher and women’s mentor at North Virginia Community College, where she has worked since 2009, concurrently with her jobs in the White House.
“If any of you are teachers, you try to create community within your classroom,” said Biden. “I love that they saw me as their English teacher [and not as first lady]. That’s how they treated me and that was a gift they gave me.”
About 10,000 women were nominated to be on the Forbes and Know Your Value “50 Over 50 List,” which honors women from every industry sector around the globe.
"We had the joy of saying 'we’re sorry, you’re too young [to be on the list]'" to some nominees who were under 50 but applied anyways, said Brzezinski. "... I have talked to so many women over 50, over 60, over 70, 80, doing amazing things...The runway is much longer than we ever imagined.
Biden declined to be listed on the Forbes and Know Your Value “50 Over 50 list,” opting instead to make room for other nominees. However, she wanted to support the accomplished honorees who are defying gender and age norms.
“Thank you for what you’re doing, and for how hard you’re working. I hope that you’ll continue to be a mentor,” Biden said. “Reach back and bring another woman along.”