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Jill Biden focuses on global women's issues, but stays away from politics

Jill Biden
Official photo | whitehouse.gov

Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, is calling for women and the nation to do their part to tackle the issues of sexual assault and sexual abuse.

But in an address Monday to area Democratic women, Biden stayed away from touchier political topics -- such as the possible government shutdown because of a dispute about Planned Parenthood and whether her husband plans to run for president next year.

Biden spoke to a packed hotel ballroom in Clayton that was filled with women, many of them members of the Women’s Democratic Forum. The group was founded by Barbara Eagleton, the widow of former Sen. Tom Eagleton and a longtime friend of the Bidens.

Jill Biden took no questions after her 15-minute address, which focused on the problems facing women, and the importance of helping them succeed.

Biden said the issue is a global one.

“No matter what part of society we look at, the economy, government or schools, we are more successful when women are given the opportunity to succeed,” she said. “Because when women and girls succeed, their communities and their countries succeed.”

Biden narrated a video that focused on successful women she has met on her travels to Africa and southeast Asia. 

She encouraged her largely female audience to do its part to address the continued problems of sexual assault on the nation’s college campuses, and sexual abuse at home and on the job.

Biden cited the Obama administration’s creation last year of the “It’s On Us’’ initiative to address the problems of sexual assault on college campuses. Biden also noted that her husband, while in the U.S. Senate, had sponsored the Violence Against Women Act 20 years ago.

“It is in our power, and also our responsibility as a country, to end sexual abuse,” she said.

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.