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Equal Pay Day

As Equal Pay Day just passed us by on April 4, I would like to bring attention to this symbolic day. Equal Pay Day is the day when women’s earnings “catch up” to men’s earnings from the previous year. It’s also an important occasion to bring awareness and organize action around the gender pay gap in our community.

Women were encouraged to wear red on Equal Pay Day to symbolize how far women and minorities are “in the red” with their pay. Equal Pay Day originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 to raise public awareness and show the gap between men’s and women’s wages.

More than 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, making it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform equal work. Although enforcement of the Equal Pay Act has helped to narrow the wage gap, women all over the country are still being paid less than men.

American women who work full time year-round are paid only 80 cents for every dollar paid to men and for woman of color the wage gap is even bigger. African American women are paid 63 cents for every dollar a man is paid, and Latinas are only paid 54 cents to every dollar that a man is paid.

Those numbers are profoundly alarming, and it’s long overdue to close this gap. Women of every race are paid less than men at all education levels and it only gets worse as women’s careers progress. So you will now ask yourself what can you do about it? The answer is to get involved in any way possible, make your voice heard.

One way to get involved is to join the Equal Pay Day campaign in your community. But if you would like to go the extra step, you can contact your House Representative and Senators to tell them how important fair pay is to you and you can even ask them to co-sponsor the current bill in congress that would help to achieve fair pay.

The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 819, H.R. 1869), which would update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act in important ways, including Protecting Employees from Retaliation for Discussing Pay, closing a Loophole in the Employer Defense, Limiting the Use of Wage History in the Hiring Process, and would assist in many other ways. As a minority woman myself, I’m deeply concerned about the tremendous wage gap, and hope to spread awareness any way that I can, so that our future generations of hard-working woman do not have to experience such inequality.

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