April 17, 2012, is National Equal Pay Day, an annual event that shines the spotlight on the importance of economic equality for all regardless of gender. The annual event, also referred to as Equal Pay Day, was created in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE). Equal Pay Day is observed in April, the month when women’s wages finally catch up to men’s from the previous year. In honor of the occasion, a variety of events, rallies, socials, patio parties and “Unhappy Hours” will take place around the nation.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
When the Equal Pay Act was signed into law in 1963, women working full-time earned 59 cents for every dollar men earned for equal work. Today women still continue to earn considerably less than men on average – about 77 cents for each dollar earned by our male counterparts. And the gap is even worse for African-American women and Hispanics. That means less food on the table, less money for mortgage or rent, health insurance premiums, utilities and women’s retirement security, to name a few. While it may not seem like a lot of money, over time, that lack of income adds up. Female college graduates will earn $1.2 million less over their lifetimes than their male peers!
In a Proclamation issued last year, United States President Obama said,
“Generations of women have fought for the advancement of their sisters, daughters, and themselves in acts of great courage — reaching for and winning the right to vote, breaking barriers in America’s universities and boardrooms, and flooding the modern workforce with skilled talent. While our Nation has come far, obstacles continue to exist for working women, who still earn less on average than working men. “
The New War the Women’s Rights
Whether it’s wage discrimination, birth control, women’s reproductive rights, reduction in funding of important women’s services or invasive and unnecessary medical procedures imposed by men, some conservative politicians, lawmakers and right-wing pundits are waging war on women’s rights.
One Wisconsin lawmaker recently said that women should stay in marriages no matter what, including abusive ones. He suggested women should remember why they married their husbands in the first place, perhaps that will help! That same lawmaker, Don Pridemore, also co-sponsored Senate Bill 507, the “being single causes child abuse” bill.
We are not living in the 50s anymore, are we? Our mothers and grandmothers fought hard for the rights women have today. To quote a famous line from a famous movie, women are “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” and are pushing back against those who are trying to take away those rights.
On April 28th, rallies and marches will take place across America as the grassroot movement Unite Against the War on Women’s “call to action to defend women’s rights.”
Wage Resources for Women
- Spread the word and show your support by participating in the Equal Pay Day Blog Carnival.
- Curious about the gender wage gap in your state? Visit the interactive map and find out.
- The Business and Professional Women’s Foundation provides valuable information about equal pay.
- In 2009, President Obama signed his first bill into act. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act amends and modifies previous Acts and clarifies “discriminatory compensation decision or other practice that is unlawful under such Acts occurs each time compensation is paid pursuant to the discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, and for other purposes.”