Lilly Ledbetter at D.C. RallyJuly 18, 2008
Yesterday, I headed to the Capitol and put on my teal AAUW “I am the face of pay equity” sticker. At the corner of Delaware and Constitution avenues in the “Senate Swamp,” I saw over 100 women from AAUW as well as our coalition partners (NOW, National Women’s Law Center, Feminist Majority, and others) waiting to hear from some incredible speakers: Sen. Barbara Mikulski, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
But perhaps the woman of the hour was Lilly Ledbetter, whose pay discrimination case against Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company went all the way to the Supreme Court. While the high court’s decision was denounced by AAUW, and Ledbetter will never get a cent from her case regardless of the legislative outcome, Lilly & Co. have built momentum towards passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
“This is not a Democratic or Republican issue. It’s a fairness issue … if this bill passes, I’ll have an even richer reward because I’ll know that my daughters and granddaughters, and your daughters and granddaughters, will get a better deal,” Ledbetter said. (You can read her entire speech online.)
AAUW has long fought to end wage discrimination. As early as 1922, AAUW’s legislative program called for a repeal of salary restrictions in the Women’s Bureau to address pay disparities. Still, nearly a century later, women working full time earn on average about 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn.
“Today we are calling for a new American revolution,” said Sen. Mikulski, the rally’s organizer. “In order to do it we’ve got to fight, so women of America, square your shoulders, put your lipstick on, suit up, and let’s go fight this revolution.” To hear her words, please call 800/511-0763 and, when prompted, enter actuality number 2836. You can also listen to the speech online. And check out Mark Schoeff Jr.’s story which features a quote from Lisa M. Maatz, AAUW director of public policy and government relations.
Photographs by Mukti Desai