At the Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, we strive to make sure that women and girls are equipped with the knowledge and tools to overcome barriers in the workforce. I recently had the opportunity to do just that by hosting a series of Women’s Bureau forums entitled “Working for Women: Your Jobs, Your Rights.”
The forums – which took place in Orlando, Fla., Lansing, Mich., and Las Vegas, Nev. – brought together hundreds of experienced workforce professionals to recent college graduates. Participants had an opportunity to connect and engage in discussions with panelists and speakers including Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, and senior Labor Department officials. The audience also learned how the Department is working to promote the economic security of women and their families.
Our goal was to assist women and stakeholders in accessing resources that protect women while on the job, and help women keep what they earn. We wanted to emphasize the relationship between America’s economic success and the success of women.
Nancy Leppink, Deputy Administrator at the Wage and Hour Division shared a video entitled “Know Your Rights: Conozca Sus Derecho” which provided the valuable information about the minimum wage and overtime resources. Additionally, she discussed a video created by my agency, “In Their Own Words.” In the video, some of our country’s most vulnerable women workers shared their experiences while on the job. Many in the audience were so touched by the stories of the women that they were compelled to discuss their own experiences in the workplace.
The forums also featured the Department’s Chief Economist Adriana Kugler, who spoke about the labor market recovery, the role of women in that recovery, and how various policies have helped spur job growth. While, David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration informed the audience about one of OSHA’s most recent projects to protect hair salon workers from possible formaldehyde exposure.
By the end of the forums, many women walked away educated about existing tools and empowered by newly acquired knowledge. The forums also taught me a few things, such as despite our efforts to increase awareness about the available resources to help women, there are still barriers that we must break down. Improving opportunities for women and ensuring that they are prepared to compete in the changing economy will continue to be an important part of the mission of the Women’s Bureau.
To learn more about our work at the Women’s Bureau, visit www.dol.gov/wb.
Latifa Lyles is Acting Director of the U. S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau.