Women's Bureau Anniversary 90 Years: Still Working
Two months before women gained the right to vote, Congress made history by mandating the establishment of the Women’s Bureau -- the only Federal agency charged with advocating on behalf of America’s working women. This year the Bureau marks its 90th anniversary and kicked off its year-long commemoration with First Lady Michelle Obama.
On June 11, more than 300 attendees – Department of Labor leaders, Women’s Bureau partners, staff, former Directors, colleagues and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey – enjoyed a lively event which opened with remarks by Director Manzano-Díaz.
A flag ceremony was performed by Girl Scout Troop 564, representing the Girl Scout Capital of the Nation’s Capital, and Women’s Bureau staff member Gail Patterson-Shipp performed the National Anthem.
One of the event's featured speakers, Carol Evans, President of Working Mother Media, praised the Women’s Bureau for raising the consciousness of employers about the benefits of helping workers bring balance to their lives. Evans also acknowledged companies who made Working Mother Magazine’s 100 Best Companies list by establishing policies that make it easier to juggle the demands of home and work.
In introducing the Bureau’s very special guest speaker First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis recognized Mrs. Obama’s leadership in working to decrease child obesity and advocating for military families, while raising two young daughters and taking care of a parent.
She is the “quintessential, ultimate working woman,” stated Secretary Solis.
During her remarks, Mrs. Obama applauded the work of the Women’s Bureau and its former Directors. She talked about how far the country has gone in breaking down barriers and glass ceilings in the last 90 years and how much further the country must go in promoting equity for women in the workplace. She also discussed the importance of flexible workplace policies, such as paid leave, as a means to help women manage work and family life.
The First Lady stated, “When women don’t have the flexibility they need to fulfill their responsibilities as both employees and breadwinners and mothers and daughters, that doesn’t just hurt women […] it puts a strain on the entire household and ultimately on all of our communities.”
Under the leadership of Director Manzano-Díaz, promoting workplace flexibility is among the four strategic priorities of the Bureau, as well as promoting women in non-traditional careers like “green” jobs; narrowing the wage gap; and improving services for homeless women veterans. While the event was clearly a tribute to the history and fortitude of the Women’s Bureau, it was also an opportunity to share the outlook for the Bureau’s future.