Remember the Ladies


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Today, the “gender gap in earnings”—as it is called in the U.S. Census Report—is 25 percent. For every dollar a man makes, a woman gets 76.5 cents. For every $100 dollars for a man, a woman makes only $76.50; for every $10,000, only $7,650, and so on.

This gap is stunning, and is made more so by the fact that the Equal Pay Act,devised to eradicate wage discrimination, was passed in 1963.

In 2005, then-Senator Clinton introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act in the Senate and Rep. Rosa DeLauro introduced the same legislation in the House. The PFA was written to amend the
gender gap in women’s pay that had yet to be addressed. The Act was reintroduced by Clinton and DeLauro in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

According to the PFA, the average income for a male over the age of 15 in 2006 (the last year data was available) was $48,768. For women over the age of 15 in the same year, the average income was only $31,402.

The House finally passed the PFA last July, but it was held back in the Senate. Those voting against the Act argued it would unfairly penalize employers who would be forced to pay women comparably to men—something they were supposed to have been doing since 1963.

After the House voted on the Act, DeLauro wrote in a Huffington Post op-ed piece, “This wage disparity between men and women costs women anywhere from $400,000 to $2 million over a lifetime.”
It took women in Congress to bring the PFA to the floor. Unfortunately, the government—still a male bastion—is no more responsive to women’s rights now than it was 200 years ago when Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, “Remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.”

President Obama committed himself to women’s issues during the election campaign and frequently referenced the achievements of Clinton, his closest Democratic rival, and commended her as a role model for his own daughters as well as for other young women.

But two centuries after Adams called for equality for women, we have yet to achieve it. Clinton echoed Adams’ exhortations when she asserted, “There cannot be true democracy unless women’s voices are heard. There cannot be true democracy unless women are given the opportunity to take responsibility for their own lives. There cannot be true democracy unless all citizens are able to participate fully in the lives of their country.”

This Women’s History Month, with a new president and a new administration, it is time once again to make our voices heard.
 

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