Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
Remarks by Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis
Biennial of the Americas
America's Roundtable on Women Drivers of the new economy
July 7, 2010
Good morning everyone!
Lt. Governor, Barbara O'Brien, thank you for your kind introduction.
It's great to be in Denver, Colorado with a group of wonderful women... "and" the some wonderful men that are here with us today.
It's inspiring to attend these types of events because it's a great opportunity to meet other women... network... or, learn something new.
Just look around the room, look at your neighbor... each one of us here have a story of our own, our struggles and desire for a better life... who doesn't want to see their family happy?
We all do, but for women to achieve her goals, sometimes it can be a bit more challenging due the various roles we play in life.
Believe me I know... coming from a family of seven children, all of us took on many roles.
I was raised in a small town known as La Puente, California... a small suburb outside of Los Angeles.
My mother worked on the assembly line and my father at a battery recycling plant.
My parents taught me the meaning of: dignity, love and respect.
Both stood up for what they believed to be right and fair.
They spoke up when they needed to and they asked questions when appropriate.
My father always told me to ask questions... and to this day, I listen to him; I still ask many of questions.
Growing up I didn't think I could ever go to college because no one in my family had done so, I thought, "How could I"?
But a wonderful teacher, I will never forget, Mr. Sanchez made me see the possibilities.
And you know what happens when women seize an opportunity... yes, we run with it.
I didn't stop until I obtained my master's degree in public administration.
And after college, my efforts and energy were dedicated to help my community pursue a better life, a better pay...to be closer to achieving the American Dream.
That has been my commitment as a public servant for more than 20 years now and it remains the same to this day.
I don't mind staying up late to work on behalf of the most vulnerable and ignored people in our society.
In 1985 I was determined to help increase the number of tenure faculty positions held by women at the Rio Hondo Community College District in Los Angeles and I did.
In the coming years, I would work on behalf of women's rights to live with dignity and respect by authoring close to 20 bills that would save them from a domestic violence situation.
And more recently, while in Congress, I helped combat the senseless murders of women and girls taking place in Guatemala and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
I mention this to you because women have big dreams, and envision great things for their future... but all of those hopes can be shattered in a matter of seconds, unless the help is there just on time.
Women can and should thrive to succeed to high level positions in the work place... I am seeing it at our own Department of Labor.
Many of my cabinet positions are held by women.
From my Solicitor to my Assistant Secretary of the Employment Training Administration... and many other high ranking jobs.
Women are the bosses!
And you should know that the Department of Labor is the only federal agency in the U.S. government with its own Women's Bureau and it is headed by an outstanding leader, Sara Manzano-Diaz.
Our Women's Bureau is specifically dedicated to help improve the lives of working women.
What do we do?
- We collaborate on projects with women owned businesses or those that want to start a business, especially in the green energy sector.
- We are expanding the flexible workplace policies and programs nationwide because we understand the importance of family.
- We are partnering with other federal agencies and countries to create projects that reach out to women across the globe.
The list goes on... from networking, finance education, mentoring, and career training.
You should also know that in the last 15 months, the Department of Labor has invested more than $200 million in the state of Colorado to help train you or retrain you in the workforce.
In addition, Colorado shares a $3.75 million multi-state award for clean energy improvements.
In essence, at the Department of Labor, we bring all of the components together to help you get back on your feet.
And once on the job, we enforce your federal labor rights.
I believe that everyone deserves the right to equal pay and to work in a healthy environment where lives are not at risk.
And that includes women!
Today women are helping create more jobs in America today!
Did you know that firms owned by women increased employment by 70,000; and those owned by men lost 1 million employees?
It's very encouraging to know that just two years ago an estimated 7.2 million women owned businesses in the United States.
This Administration and I believe that by giving a hand to women, together, we can do incredible things.
And the results fulfill the women's family and it's helping our nation's economy be much stronger.
So if you walked in this room with fears and doubts about your future goals, know that this Administration and the Department of Labor are here for you.
My department operates under the vision of, "good and safe jobs for everyone."
That's the goal behind all the work we do.
And President Obama has been and is with us... you may recall that the very first bill he singed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
It ensures you of your right to get paid equally!
And the Recovery Act included:
- $2 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grants;
- $1 billion for Head Start; and
- $1.1 billion for Early Head Start.
And to help improve the lives of women and girls, the administration created the White House Council on Women and Girls.
There are many resources for you if you want to have a better job and a better future... but you must ask to learn where to seek the opportunities.
Women have come a long way from the moment we obtained the right to vote.
Today, we shouldn't be surprised to learn that more women than ever are running for office.
Two, three years ago... I didn't imagine I would be speaking to all of you as head of the U.S. Department of Labor... but look it can happen!
Ladies and gentleman:
You have a friend at the Department of Labor... reach out to us, as we are working to reach out to you.
Thank you for having me here today.