OCR Celebrates Women’s History Month

As we close Women’s History Month, we celebrate the many powerful women who have contributed to our Country, despite the barriers that may exist and those they have had to overcome. This month has been especially meaningful because I have had strong women around me my entire life. I was raised by a single mother and looked up to my older sister as she pioneered her legal career in the public interest. I am deeply grateful to the many female role models who paved a path for me and many others. As Vice President Kamala Harris says, “The first, but not the last,” and I hope to do the same for the many women who will come after me.

At the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR), we reflect on the work ahead to address discrimination and disparities and promote gender equity and equality in the human services and health programs of our country.

Women make up half of the US. population. From suffragettes and abolitionists to our first female vice president, our country has experienced centuries of progress toward gender equality. However, challenges and inequalities persist:

  • Women continue to earn less than their male counterparts. While Equal Pay Day, March 12, 2024, marks how long in a later year women, on average, must work to earn a man’s income from the previous year, pay disparities are more pronounced for women. black women, women of color and women with disabilities. . Latinas, who face the largest wage gap, must work until December of the following year to earn the income of a non-Latino white man.
  • The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among high-income countries, although most are preventable. Black women and Native American women face a higher risk of maternal deaths. Eliminating these disparities requires innovative actions to improve maternal health and birth outcomes for pregnant and postpartum women.
  • Transgender women report higher rates of violent victimization than cisgender women.

I join President Biden in his call issued on his Proclamation on Women’s History Month, 2024“May we all continue working to build a world worthy of the dreams and goals of all women and girls.”

OCR enforces a variety of federal privacy laws and anti-discrimination laws that protect the privacy of patients, including those who need access to care, pregnant women, women with disabilities, or women who identify as LGBTQI+.

As part of my office’s work on nondiscrimination and commitment to justice, some of OCR’s recent efforts include:

OCR is also a diverse workforce and I want to take a moment to recognize some of its women leaders:

  • Jenny Ma serves as principal deputy director of OCR.
  • Genevieve Kelly He serves as interim Chief of Staff.
  • Robinsue Frohboese He is the Deputy Director of Strategic Planning.
  • The majority of OCR’s eight regions across the country are led by women (six):
    • Jamie Rahn BallayRegional Manager, Mid-Atlantic Region
    • Linda ColonRegional Manager, Eastern and Caribbean Region
    • andrea oliverRegional Manager, Rocky Mountain Region
    • Susan RhodesRegional Manager, New England Region
    • Marisa SmithRegional Manager, Southwest Region
    • Barbara StampulRegional Manager, Southeast Region

I greatly appreciate the many contributions of the women who work at OCR to advance privacy and civil rights, and the many women across the country who work to make health care more accessible, affordable, and better for everyone. Your hard work every day inspires me to do more.


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