Get Ready to “Celebrate” Equal Pay Day
With holiday music already playing in stores, it’s time to get ready for one of the most un-wonderful times of the year: Equal Pay Day.
Equal Pay Day is the symbolic day when women’s earnings finally catch up to men’s earnings from the previous year. Thanks to the gender pay gap, it takes women an extra three months of wages to make up that 22-percent difference. Equal Pay Day 2014 will fall on Tuesday, April 8, so mark your calendar!
Get the Pay Gap Numbers
Equal Pay Day 2014 is particularly significant because it falls between two legislative anniversaries that have helped women make progress in the workplace — but not quite enough progress. January 29, 2014, is the fifth anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and July 2, 2014, is the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.
As usual, AAUW will host special events and distribute Equal Pay Day resources to help celebrate the work that has been done and that still needs to be done to ensure women receive equal pay for equal work. Last year, AAUW members nearly outdid themselves, with more than 130 activities happening across the country! But don’t take it from us — here are a few stories of successful equal pay activities you can bring to your state or branch.
Joanna Amberger, AAUW of Hawaii
Last year we were one of the grantees for the [multi-campus] Campus Action Project at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, and Windward Community College. For part of that project, we pursued getting a proclamation for Equal Pay Day from the governor and the Honolulu mayor. It was a fairly straightforward process, so I would really encourage branches and states to consider doing it. AAUW national has ready-made proclamation language, so they make it easy to do. I got the language and found that both the governor and the mayor had online submission forms that you could use to request proclamations. I submitted the proclamation exactly as I wanted it to be read, and I submitted some basic supporting documentation, also from AAUW, to justify why the proclamation was important.
We submitted it maybe a month or a month and a half in advance. Because of time constraints, we didn’t get an in-person presentation from the governor, but we did get an in-person presentation from the mayor! It was pretty spectacular to get an in-person presentation with a group of branch members and students involved with the Campus Action Project, and the mayor gave us an audience of about 10–15 minutes to talk about the issue. It was a great experience.
Doris Holmes, AAUW of Washington
We’re quite active in letters to the editor on equal pay. We have sent 16 letters from 13 branches throughout the state, and at least four have been published so far. We got a lot of the information from AAUW’s website on equal pay. There was also an article in a Washington-state newspaper about the pay disparity throughout the state and which counties are suffering more, so one of our members directly referenced the percentage in her congressional district when she wrote the letter.
Cheri Crothers, AAUW Springfield (OH) Branch
We have a small branch and everybody works, so we decided that a cake drop would be a good idea because our congressman is House Speaker John Boehner. We bought a cake and then we took one of those equal-pay stickers, made an edible transfer of it, and put it on top of this white cake. Then we took a cookie cutter and took a chunk out of the cake [to represent the 23 percent wage gap], and then we boxed it all up and took it to Speaker Boehner’s office. About six of us showed up. We thanked the staff, said we hoped they enjoyed the snack, and left them with the message that the women of the eighth congressional district [of Ohio] are watching and listening. It took 10 minutes, and it was easy because we could do it on our lunch hour. And that was it, it was just a simple store-bought cake from a local bakery, and it was the easiest thing we could do. I think it made an impression.
Barbara Yong, AAUW Chicago (IL) Branch
It occurred to me about three and a half years ago that we really needed to do something that has a bigger splash, and my idea was getting together in the middle of downtown Chicago in the Daley Center Plaza. I’m happy to say that three years later, we’ve had three very successful rallies, and each year we’ve had more people. Last year by my count it was a little over 200 people, in addition to the speakers. Some of the co-sponsoring organizations include Business and Professional Women, the Chicago National Organization for Women, the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, Women Employed, YWCA, AAUW, and we also have a lot of the government participating, including the Illinois Department of Labor, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the city of Chicago, and the county.
Another thing that we focused on is having different government officials speaking at the event, so we’ve had Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon (D), and Attorney General Lisa Madigan. It’s very important that we try to keep the rally to just one hour so that people can come out during their lunch hour and then go back to work. So this year on April 8 will be our fourth rally. We hope to continue to grow the rally each year and get more people and more media coverage, and we appreciate the support that AAUW has given us and continues to give us.
These stories represent just four of the many exciting equal pay activities happening across the country, and we want to help your branch or state recognize Equal Pay Day in your community. Check out the links above for tools to help you in your activities, as well as the following additional resources:
- AAUW Quick Facts on the Gender Pay Gap
- Full set of how-to resources for advocacy activities such as cake deliveries, rallies, letters to the editor, tabling, petitions, house meetings, and more!
- Descriptions of 2012–13 Campus Action Project activities, all focused on equal pay to inspire you with more ideas!
The pay gap is real, and it’s a problem. Equal Pay Day is a powerful occasion to raise this issue in our communities, so don’t miss out: Mark your calendar for Tuesday, April 8, and check out the resources above to start planning!
Already have an Equal Pay Day event in the works?
We can send you stickers and other materials and help make your event successful!
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