WASHINGTON -- The Obama campaign is launching its 2012 "Women for Obama" initiative, an effort to mobilize this crucial voting bloc for the president's reelection effort.
In an email to supporters on Monday night, First Lady Michelle Obama, an honorary chair of the initiative, announced the launch of Women for Obama and urged female voters to sign up.
"Today, we are officially launching Women for Obama -- and I am incredibly honored to be serving as its chair," read the email by the first lady. "This is a special group dedicated to growing this campaign from the ground up. Because we know better than anyone that movements for real and lasting change have got to start at the grassroots -- and they're sustained by the relationships we develop with one another. Together, that's what we're going to do -- build relationships with supporters, new and old, and grow this campaign -- one woman at a time."
Michelle Obama also cited health care reform, raising standards in public schools, building out job-training programs at community colleges and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as evidence of the president's fight for women's rights.
"But we have so much more to do. And, as women and supporters of this campaign, we need to keep showing up -- and we need to keep fighting the good fight," she added.
Women for Obama is an arm of the campaign's "Operation Vote," an aggressive effort to engage and mobilize voting constituencies that helped President Obama win in 2008, such as college students, women and African Americans.
The National Women's Vote Director is Heather Colburn, a Wisconsin native who was active in the state's Senate recall elections earlier this year. She has also worked for EMILY's List, Planned Parenthood and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
"Women have always been the heart of the Obama campaign and will play a crucial role in ensuring the President has four more years to protect and continue the progress we've made," Colburn said in a statement to The Huffington Post. "I'm honored to be on board, and look forward to working alongside the thousands of women already dedicating themselves and their time to help deliver the women's vote next November."
Throughout the week, there will be house parties and phone banks around the country, an attempt to reengage women who voted for Obama in 2008 and pull in new voters.
Women for Obama is already doing events in Colorado, New Mexico, Michigan, Florida, California, North Carolina and New Hampshire, among other states.
Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University, said Obama needs a strong turnout from women in order to win in 2012.
"He needs the women's vote. There's no question," Lawless told HuffPost in August. "What's up for grabs right now is the extent to which women are energized and ready to mobilize for him. In every presidential election since 1980, there's been a gender gap with women more likely to support the Democratic candidate than men. Without the women's vote -- because women comprise the majority of the electorate -- it's virtually impossible for a candidate to win the election."
In 2008, an analysis by the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics found that women were a "significant factor" in Obama's victory. He won 56 percent of women's votes, whereas his opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), won just 43 percent. Men split their vote about evenly between the two candidates.
An October Gallup poll found that 48 percent of women approve of the job Obama is doing, compared to 39 percent of men.
From: Michelle Obama
Sent: Monday, November 14, 2011
Subject: Women for Obama
As I have traveled across the country, I have had the privilege of meeting incredible women from all walks of life. From young women paying their own way through college, to moms working the extra shift to keep food on the table, to women struggling to make ends meet during retirement.
We talk about their bills, their children -- how they're constantly striving to strike that balance between work and family. And no matter what kind of challenges they're facing, they don't complain. They just work harder.
This is what we do as women. We persevere. Because no matter our ages, backgrounds, or stations in life, we are determined to leave a better world for our children and give them opportunities we never even dreamed of.
Women have always been the heart of the Obama organization. We make up nearly half of the American workforce and are the majority of students in America's colleges and universities. We're the primary caregivers for our children and seniors. We're the heads of households and workplaces across the country.
And right now, it's time for us all to dig deep, step up, and keep building this campaign together: person by person, discussion by discussion.
Today, we are officially launching Women for Obama -- and I am incredibly honored to be serving as its chair. This is a special group dedicated to growing this campaign from the ground up. Because we know better than anyone that movements for real and lasting change have got to start at the grassroots -- and they're sustained by the relationships we develop with one another. Together, that's what we're going to do -- build relationships with supporters, new and old, and grow this campaign -- one woman at a time.
I wanted to ask you myself if you'll sign on to join us.
The stories of the incredible women I meet serve as a constant reminder of why we're all here: because American families all around the country are facing very real problems. They're balancing mortgage payments and utilities bills with full-time jobs and raising children. They're struggling to make ends meet while still trying to put money aside to send their kids to college one day.
Barack understands these issues because he's lived them. He was raised by a single mother who struggled to put herself through school and pay the bills. When she needed help, Barack's grandmother stepped in, waking up every morning before dawn to take a bus to her job at a bank. And even though she worked hard and was good at what she did, she ultimately hit a glass ceiling and was passed over for promotions time and again because she was a woman.
So Barack knows what it means when a family struggles. He knows what it means when someone doesn't have a chance to fulfill their potential. And today, as a father, he knows what it means to want your daughters to grow up with no limits on their dreams.
That's why, since taking office, he's worked tirelessly to make sure every child and every family gets a fair shake.
The historic health reform he passed is making sure every American family gets the quality and affordable care they need to stay healthy. The crucial investments he's made in our students and workers -- raising the standards in our public schools and building out job-training programs at community colleges -- are investments in our country's economic future. And the very first bill he signed into law -- the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act -- will help make it easier for women to get equal pay for equal work, because he knows that women's success in this economy is the key to families' success in this economy.
But we have so much more to do. And, as women and supporters of this campaign, we need to keep showing up -- and we need to keep fighting the good fight.
So I'm asking you to join me, and women all across the country who support this movement. I'm asking you to say you're ready to work.
Join Women for Obama, and help us grow this organization:
Thank you for being a part of this,
Known for: Current first lady Michelle Obama, an Ivy League-educated lawyer who refers to herself as the "mom in chief," has been focused on health care reform and issues affecting women and families, -- particularly those in the military. Click through for more on past first ladies. (Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images)
Known for: The former librarian made literacy her crusade as first lady, championing various initiatives to promote global literacy, particularly among women and children. In her final year in the White House, she pushed for human rights in Cuba and Myanmar. (Charles Dharapak, AP)
Known for: The wife of President Bill Clinton redefined the role of first lady. She moved the first lady's office to the heart of power in the West Wing and headed up a project to reform the nation's health care system. The plan died in Congress but she remained an integral part of her husband's administration. She later became a New York senator and launched a historical campaign for the presidency. (Paul J. Richards, AFP/Getty Images)
Known for: Like her daughter-in-law, Barbara Bush's cause as first lady was literacy. The wife of President George H.W. Bush also worked with the White House Historical Association and the White House Preservation Fund, which she renamed the White House Endowment Trust. (Bob Daemmrich, AFP/Getty Images)
Known for: The wife of Ronald Reagan focused much of her time in the White House spotlighting Americans in the arts. She also famously spearheaded a campaign to teach children to "just say no" to drugs and alcohol. (Dirck Halstead, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)
Known for: The wife of President Jimmy Carter took an active role in her husband's administration, sitting in on Cabinet meetings and representing him in meetings with domestic and world leaders. She also urged efforts to alleviate the Cambodian refugee crisis in 1979. (AP)
Known for: The wife of President Gerald Ford was known for her candid nature, particularly when it came to her own struggles. She was outspoken about her battle with breast cancer while in the White House and, after her husband had left office, about her substance abuse. She also pushed for the Equal Rights Amendment and the legalization of abortion. (AP)
Known for: The wife of President Richard Nixon used her role as first lady to promote volunteer service, which she called "the spirit of people helping people." She accompanied her husband on a historic visit to China and the summit meetings in the Soviet Union. (John Dominis, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)
Known for: The wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson promoted beautification of the nation's cities and highways and conservation of natural resources. She also developed the modern structure of the first lady's office and was the first to have a press secretary and chief of staff of her own. (Robert Knudsen, LBJ Library/AP)
Known for: The wife of President John F. Kennedy was a style icon who brought charm and elegance to the White House. She championed the arts and historic preservation, making the White House a museum of American history. She became a model of stoic grace in the wake of her husband's assassination. (AP)
Known for: As an eloquent and accomplished advocate of human and women's rights, Mrs. Roosevelt became one of the most influential and revered women of her generation. The wife of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first first lady to hold news conferences. She hosted a weekly radio show and wrote daily newspaper and monthly magazine columns. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Known for: The wife of Abraham Lincoln worked as a volunteer nurse in Union hospitals and offered advice to her husband on military personnel, but she mostly entertained to foster Union morale. Still, much of her family's allegiance to the Confederacy led some Northerners to question her loyalty and character. (Library of Congress)
Known for: The wife of the fourth President of the United States, James Madison, was famous for her social graces. When the British attacked Washington during the War of 1812, she saved a portrait of George Washington from the White House, which the British burned. (Stock Montage/Getty Images)
Known for: The wife of President John Adams and the mother of President John Quincy Adams, she took an active role in politics and policy. In letters to her husband during the Continental Congresses, she argued that creating a new form of government presented an opportunity to grant women equal legal status to men. The letters became some of the earliest known writings calling for women's rights. (Stock Montage/Getty Images)
Known for: The wife of President George Washington did not enjoy her years as the nation's first first lady, once likening the role to being a "prisoner." Nonetheless she focused on her public role as hostess, setting many of the standards for the proper behavior of the president's wife. She was known as "Lady Washington." (Stock Montage/Getty Images) Sources: USA Today, FirstLadies.org, WhiteHouse.gov, www.vcdh.virginia.edu