I hear it everywhere I go, from family and friends to colleagues and neighbors: The empowerment and development of women and girls can positively improve the economic prosperity of millions of women, American families and our economy.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to be part of a great women’s empowerment effort in my native home, New York City. I took part in the first annual “Women’s Economic Empowerment Summit” hosted by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in coordination with New York University on Monday.
The summit brought together over 500 women that ranged from experienced business owners to recent college graduates. This forum gave these women the opportunity to build skills and engage in discussions with some of the nation’s leading women on the opportunities and challenges that women face in achieving financial security. The audience learned how the American Jobs Act can assist in improving their economic outlook while creating long-term growth and prosperity.
The “Women’s Economic Empowerment Summit” brought together panelists and speakers from The White House Project, Chamber of Commerce, Glamour magazine, The Today Show, and many others to share insights on how women can strengthen their economic futures. The goal was to examine the economic barriers women face on a daily basis and to inspire a new generation to lead in America’s economic recovery.
Valerie Jarrett, White House Senior Advisor, inspired the audience during a keynote discussion with WABC anchor Diana Williams. She helped us all understand what we need to do to succeed as leaders for generations to come and urged women to take risks. Jarrett told the audience that women should not be afraid to ask for what they want or need. I couldn’t agree more!
Women represent a growing share of today’s workforce. They are entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders in government and industry. At nearly 50 % of the labor force, women are in the position to drive our 21st century economy. Yet, we are still confronted with serious challenges such as the gender wage gap, underrepresentation at high levels of management and lower participation rates in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
Improving opportunities for women and ensuring that they are prepared to compete in the rapidly changing global economy is an important part of the mission of the Department of Labor Women’s Bureau. In keeping with that commitment, the Women’s Bureau will continue to shatter ceilings, open doors, and build bridges for generations to come.
Learn more about what we are doing at the Women’s Bureau and its priorities by visiting our Website at www.dol.gov/wb.
Sara Manzano-Díaz is Director of the U. S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau.