Women’s Equality Day

August 26, 2012 is Women’s Equality Day. Forty years ago, at the behest of US Representative Bella Abzug (D-NY), the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.” The date of August 26th was selected to commemorate the 1920 passage of the nineteenth (19th) Amendment to the US Constitution which grants women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York. For many feminists, the observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward reaching full equality.

In its action alert, 9 to 5 reminds us of the continuing problem of sex-and race-based wage discrimination and the need to achieve pay equity. The alert reads as follows:
When the Equal Pay Act passed nearly 50 years ago, a woman earned an average of 59 cents for every dollar a man made.  Today, she makes 77 cents.  The annual gap between men and women’s median annual wages is a staggering $10,849. With more and more families relying on women’s wages to support them in an ailing economy, shortchanging women nearly $11,000 a year is inexcusable.
Solution:
The Paycheck Fairness Act is an important  step in the continuing struggle for women’s rights. Blocked in the Senate in  2010, when a minority of Senators prevented the bill from moving forward, the Act will be reintroduced by members of Congress this month.The Paycheck Fairness Act would take several  steps towards closing the wage gap, including: clarifying acceptable reasons  for differences in pay between men and women; prohibiting retaliation against  workers who inquire about or disclose information about employers’ wage  policies and their pay rates; making it easier to file class action lawsuits  based on equal pay; and requiring the EEOC to survey current pay data and obliging employers to submit pay data identified by race, sex and national  origin of employees.
Action Needed:
Help 9 to5 make change: Contact your U.S.  Senators and U.S. Representative and urge them to support and sign on to the  Paycheck Fairness Act as it is introduced this year. Women have waited too long for equal wages.  We, as a nation, cannot afford to wait any longer.—9 to 5. Sources: Women’s History Project. 9 to 5. The National Committee on Pay Equity. The Paycheck Fairness Act. Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

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