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Federal Women's Program

The Federal Women's Program (FWP) is one of several federally mandated programs. It began with the passing of the 19th Amendment on August 26th, 1920, which granted women the right to vote in the United States. There are two celebratory commemorations on behalf of women’s achievements. Since 1971, August 26th is recognized every year as “Women’s Equality Day” and activities are done to memorialize the strenuous fight for women’s equality. In addition, each year, the month of March is celebrated as “Women’s History Month” in commemoration of “ International Women’s Day,” celebrated in Europe on March 8th. During March, we pause to recognize women’s achievements and contributions to our planet and our communities. At VA, we believe it is important to celebrate the achievements of the suffrage movement and know that the larger fight for diversity and inclusion in an ongoing battle is even more vital. As current statistics show the struggle for inclusion and diversity, especially in the workforce, continues to this day.

Policy Year Description
Executive Order 11375 [PDF] 1967 The category of “sex” was added as a protected category
Executive Order 11478 1969 This established the Federal Women’s Program for each federal agency and placed the responsibility under the Director of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
29 CFR 1614.102 1972 In March of 1972, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was amended to add the protection of women to federal employees

In VA, where both equality and inclusion of both employees and the Veterans they serve are of utmost importance, there is still room for improvement. As of September 30, 2019 women represent 60.62% percent of the overall VA workforce. Although this may seem like a large number, it remains 4.18 percent below the National Relevant Civilian Labor Force (RCLF) of 64.85 percent, which is the benchmark. In VA’s permanent leadership pipeline (GS-12 through GS-14) women hold 57.5 percent of those positions. Women represent 41.24% of executive leadership positions (GS-15 and Senior Executive Service or SES positions).

Each Federal Agency has designated an FWP Manager, who is tasked with carrying out the responsibilities of the role. This individual assists in the recruitment, development, training, and advancement of women in their respective workforces. The FWP Manager responsibilities are:

  • Advise management on the unique concerns of and barriers to equal opportunity for a particular underrepresented group.
  • Monitor and evaluate human resource policies, practices, and procedures to determine the existence of barriers to full participation; and report findings to the appropriate officials with recommendations for corrective action.
  • Participate in studies and systemic analyses to identify barriers to equal employment opportunity.
  • Educate supervisors, managers and employees on the goals and objectives of the FWP.
  • Assist in identification of training needs and recruitment sources for women in areas they have less than expected participation rates.
  • Serve as representative with various organizations with common goals.
  • Coordinate and/or partner for educational programs including seminars, workshops, and FWP observances.
  • Be involved in the planning and implementation of proactive prevention measures for women in the workforce.

For more information, contact VA's National Federal Women's Program Manager or, for additional resources, visit the Women's History Month or Women's Equality Day pages.

Executive Orders:

Program Links:

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