After more than two years at the Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, it has come time for me to say goodbye.
It is only in this country that a humble Puerto Rican girl who grew up in Harlem’s public housing can realize her aspirations of becoming an attorney, never imagining that she would later serve the President of the United States.
Through this opportunity afforded by President Barack Obama and Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, I have strived to help women and other little girls like me achieve the American Dream.
Over the last two years, the Bureau has advocated a range of policies to advance the economic security of women by promoting workplace flexibility, fighting for equal pay for equal work, bringing more women into non-traditional innovative jobs such as those in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and improving services for women veterans experiencing homelessness.
As a member of the President’s Equal Pay Task Force, the Women’s Bureau has helped facilitate inter-agency coordination to improve enforcement of equal pay laws. We recently launched equal pay brochures to further educate women about their rights and employers about their obligations under federal law. Additionally, the Bureau empowered women by co-launching an innovative challenge with the Task Force, which invited developers to use publicly available data and resources to create phone applications to help reduce the pay gap for women. The winning, free phone apps can be downloaded by visiting www.dol.gov/equalpay.
We’ve organized ten national webcast dialogues on workplace flexibility to build on the momentum of the White House Forum, reaching nearly 2,000 participants and generating 18 new research studies and papers. We also assisted women in obtaining jobs in the high-growth and emerging clean energy industry by releasing “Why Green is Your Color: A Woman’s Guide to a Sustainable Career.”
I am also proud of our steps to improve the services for our nation’s women veterans. We hosted the first woman-to-woman veterans Stand Down to provide a safe environment for women veterans to access needed resources. In addition, we created “Trauma-Informed Care for Women Veterans Experiencing Homelessness: A Guide for Service Providers” to assist service providers in understanding the unique and multiple traumas that women veterans face.
However, one of the achievements that excites me the most is the major shift to bring Women’s Bureau communications into the 21st century. The Bureau’s unique wrist bands with built in flash drives are loaded with relevant documents and videos for distribution during meetings and events. Moreover, by redesigning the Women’s Bureau website, using social media tools, and convening the departments first-ever “Tweet-Up” on equal pay, we were able to reach new heights and audiences.
I want to thank the agencies within and outside the government, as well as our stakeholders. Many of these accomplishments were achieved because of your collaborative efforts.
Today, I leave you with a quote from President Obama’s 2012 Women’s History Month Proclamation that summarizes my thoughts, “While we have made great strides toward equality, we cannot rest until our mothers, sisters, and daughters assume their rightful place as full participants in a secure, prosperous, and just society.”
Sara Manzano-Díaz is Director of the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau.