By: Andrea Johnson, FellowPosted on March 14, 2017

In the same week as the Day Without a Woman strike demonstrated how indispensable women’s work is to our economy, two states stepped up their fight to ensure that women’s paychecks reflect that value.

Washington State House Passes Equal Pay Bill

On March 8—the day of the Women’s Strike—the Washington state House passed the Equal Pay Opportunity Act with a 61-36 vote. Among other things, the bill includes an important provision that allows employees to discuss their wages with each other without fear of retaliation. This protection is crucial to ensuring that pay discrimination does not remain hidden in the shadows, but is instead rooted out. Similar legislation has passed the Washington House the last two years–but this time it is headed to the state Senate with bipartisan support behind it.

Yes—ensuring that the many families that depend on women’s income are not short changed is an issue we can all get behind. And not only in Washington.

Louisiana Hosts Equal Pay Summit

On March 10, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards hosted the Louisiana Equal Pay Summit highlighting the urgent need to close the astounding 68 cents on the dollar wage gap in Louisiana—the second worst gender wage gap in the nation. Several hundred Louisianans turned out for the Summit and representatives from the business community came out to talk about how equal pay is a positive factor for businesses in the state.

State legislators of all political stripes across the country are increasingly realizing that we are short changing women and their families and it needs to stop.

Last week’s Day Without a Woman drove home how essential women are to the functioning of our communities and the strength of our economy. Entire school districts had to shut down because women went on strike and many people responded angrily that teachers, child care providers, moms, nurses, etc. can’t go on strike because chaos would ensue. We clearly see so much of the work women do in our economy as indispensable, but when it comes to reflecting that value in women’s paychecks, too many employers aren’t willing to follow through, hurting women, their families, and our communities. As NWLC’s Fatima Goss Graves said last week: “If women’s work – paid and unpaid – were truly seen and valued, that alone would be a pathway for ending poverty.”

Fortunately, Washington and Louisiana are part of a growing movement in the states to take action to close the wage gap. So far this year, well over half the states have introduced equal pay legislation. We will keep you up to date on further #WinsForWomen’s economic security and dignity at work as these bills move through the state legislatures.