Equal Pay for Equal Work — Not Yet Everyone’s RealityApril 10, 2009
As we learn about activities being held throughout the country to bring attention to Equal Pay Day, April 28, I can’t help but reflect on a blog post I did almost a year ago, “Should Women Have Equal Rights?” I quoted a study from ten years ago and wondered if there had been any updated surveys since then. No one told us of any updated surveys (let us know if you know of one), but both sides of the question were represented in the comments. What has brought this home again to me now?
Obviously, as we approach Equal Pay Day and realize that a one-cent gain (women now make 78 cents for every dollar men make for full-time year-round work) does not represent equality, the fact we still have an Equal Pay Day makes me angry. Every woman deserves to receive equal pay for equal work. Today’s economic situation reinforces that, both for women who did not receive equal pay most of their lives and now have less retirement income as a result and for women and men still in the workforce who deserve no discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, disability, or any other form of bias.
This year, reading a couple of stories stemming from actions in two other countries made me realize how even more important it is for us in our own country to reach parity. Which two? One will be no surprise; the other may surprise you. They are Afghanistan and Canada.
News reports point to a bill recently passed in Afghanistan that is
intended to give the minority Shia community their own identity. But critics say the latest draft strips Shia women of rights as simple as leaving the house without permission from a male relative and as extreme as allowing a man to have sexual intercourse with his wife even when she says, “No.” (CNN)
The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, is now reportedly saying that key elements were “misinterpreted by western news organizations” (and by the United Nations and other human rights organizations, presumably as they too expressed concern and outrage) and has ordered a review of the bill. Hmmmm, that’s the power of public outcry on a global basis in action here. The fact that Karzai attempted to cite an example of gender inequity in the United States made me realize the leadership role we must take globally, not just in words, but in action.
And Canada? They have a record of being ahead of us in passing legislation bringing pay equity to the workplace. Now, apparently, a Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act is being proposed:
The government had announced its intention to terminate the option for women to file pay equity complaints to the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) and make pay equity a responsibility of collective bargaining between unions and employers. (Mariel Angus, blog post, Citizens for Public Justice)
I normally take opinions for what they are — opinions — and not necessarily statements of fact. But this letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper caught my eye. It was signed by many in the Canadian academic community, expressing dismay that, if passed, this act would be unfair to women.
Yikes! We here in the United States need now more than ever to be seen as the leaders on issues of equality. April 28, Equal Pay Day, is just around the corner. I know our AAUW community of members throughout the country are bringing attention to this very basic rights issue. Won’t you join us in making your voice heard and your actions for equity felt?