Equal Pay Day – For who?

Today is Equal Pay Day, a day when women, on average, finally make as much as men made in 2016. That’s right, it took women more than 15 months to earn what men averaged in 12.

For the last few years, we at Family Forward, have done numerous events and actions to recognize this day and to remind our elected leaders how wage disparities continues to impact women in Oregon. But the average wage gap that we recognize on Equal Pay Day doesn’t tell the whole story about wage gaps. In fact, it glosses over what it means to be a woman of color in this country and how the wage gap impacts our families and communities differently. That’s why this year we’re choosing not to recognize the national Equal Pay Day.

While white women in the United States are paid, on average, just 80 cents for every dollar a man makes, the wage gap is even larger for women of color. African American women are paid 63 cents, and Latinas are paid just 54 cents for every dollar a white man earns. That means Equal Pay Day for African American women won’t be until July 31, 2017 and for Latinas, it won’t be until November 2, 2017. ALMOST A FULL YEAR LATER!

We need an intersectional movement for equal pay that addresses not just what women earn on average versus men, but how women of color and white women earn and acquire wealth differently. It’s not enough to focus on policies that address the wage gap broadly, we must train our eyes on the intersection of race and gender and how each contribute to greater inequities in wages and a myriad of other financial disadvantages. We are working to strengthen our intersectional analysis by lifting up the experiences of women of color – for, by, and with women of color. Because this day only recognizes the “average”, we do not believe that this day strives for inclusivity of the full spectrum of women’s experiences who are struggling economically.

Please join us in recognizing Equal Pay Day on November 2nd, which is the day when ALL women will finally catch up to what white men made in 2016. We will share more details soon about an event and action to take place later in the year that lifts up women of color and those most marginalized in our community.

For more information about some of our work to advance economic prosperity for women in Oregon, learn about Fair Pay for All (House Bill 2005-A), a bill being considered by Oregon’s legislature that will help to end persistent pay disparities faced by women, people of color, LBGTQ workers, and workers with a disability.

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