Happy Women’s Equality Day! Ninety years ago today, the 19th Amendment to our Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing women the right to vote. In honor of the anniversary of this milestone in our nation’s history, President Obama issued a proclamation calling on the people of the United States not only to celebrate the many achievements of women between then and now, but also to “recommit themselves to the goal of true gender equality in this country.”
The President hit the nail on its head. For example, what does “equality” mean when there is still a substantial wage gap between men and women? Even today, women make just 77 cents for every dollar a man makes — that’s an average of $10,622 in lost wages per woman every year.
There’s no doubt that there is plenty cause for celebration, but the average woman still struggles to get by. For many women and their families, ending the wage gap would buy a year’s supply of groceries, three months of child care, or six months of health insurance. The value of that should not be underestimated! The Paycheck Fairness Act would deter wage discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act that have undermined its effectiveness, and by barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages to one another. The Senate must act quickly to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act when it returns in September. That will get us one step closer to true equality for women, and give more women even more of a reason to celebrate.