Letters to the editor and op-eds in local community papers are an especially effective communications and advocacy tools. Writing a letter to the editor (LTE) or an op-ed is a great way to educate and energize advocates, reach elected officials, and spread the word about important issues while calling for change.
The Paycheck Fairness Act was recently reintroduced in Congress, and we need to mobilize quickly to ensure its swift passage.
AAUW demands action on the Paycheck Fairness Act now. Despite existing federal and state equal pay laws, the gender pay gap persists, impacting millions of women and their families. We need to update our laws to ensure all workers can take home a fair paycheck. Congress must ensure all women have the tools they need to challenge discrimination and all employers have the incentives they need to comply with the law.
This is where you come in
First, you will need to:
- Research the guidelines for your local paper.
- Find a local angle—has your paper covered the topic or published an LTE or Op-Ed yet? How has paycheck inequality impacted your life?
- Assume nothing—do not assume readers know the details about the gender pay gap, so be sure to include some concise background on both the topic and proposed changes.
- Avoid sending the same letter to competing papers—select one to submit to and make sure your work is personalized.
- End with a call to action—demand that Congress passes the Paycheck Fairness Act.
To further assist in this call to action, below we have collected resources on writing, key talking points, and background information on the Paycheck Fairness Act and the gender pay gap to inform your work. Use these media outreach tools to correct and clarify facts for the public, spur news editors to cover the issue, and urge readers to support equal pay for equal work.
AAUW advocates have worked tirelessly in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act for more than 20 years and we continue to fight today – take action now and join us in the final push to win!
Paycheck Fairness Act Talking Points:
- The gender pay gap refers to the fact that on average women working full time in the United States are paid just 84% of what men are paid, and the gap widens to 77% when it includes women working part-time or seasonally and is then even more extreme for most women of color.
- Despite federal and state equal pay laws, gender and racial pay gaps persist, and earnings lost to these gaps have exacerbated the financial effects of COVID-19, falling particularly heavily on women of color and the families who depend on their income. The Paycheck Fairness Act would take meaningful steps to update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to help close the gender pay gap.
- We need new tools to fight discriminatory pay practices, and we need effective incentives and assistance to help employers comply with the law. The Paycheck Fairness Act provides these tools by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and putting new protections in place for the benefit of all American workers.
- Women became half of the full-time labor force in our nation for the first time in the last decade, and three-quarters of moms are now in the labor force, more than half of whom are the primary breadwinners for their families.
- Black women, Latinas, and other women of color continue to be on the front lines of the ongoing public health crisis, risking their lives in jobs in health care, child care, and grocery stores; they are also being paid less than their male counterparts.
- The gender pay gap exists for every age group, in nearly every profession, and widens over a woman’s lifetime. It even follows women into retirement, due to lower retirement savings and pension benefits.
- Lost earnings due the wage gap not only leave women without a financial cushion to weather the current crisis, but also make it harder for them to build wealth, contributing to racial and gender wealth gaps and creating barriers to families’ economic prosperity.
- We cannot build back an economy that works for everyone without ensuring that all women can work with equality, safety, and dignity, starting with pay equity.
- I/we urge all members of Congress to cosponsor and support the Paycheck Fairness Act. This critical legislation can help women, their families, and our overall economy rebound from the current crisis by guaranteeing equal pay for equal work.
Example LTE for the Paycheck Fairness Act
There’s no debate about the enormous value women bring the U.S. economy: They account for almost half the labor force and make up the majority of our country’s essential workers. Yet thanks to systemic sexism and decades of discrimination, women still are paid, on average, just 84 cents for every dollar paid to a man. This gap only worsens when we include women working part-time or seasonally—widening to 77 cents—and it is more dire for most women of color.
There should be no debate about this either: Women deserve equal and equitable pay, period. As our nation struggled to survive over the past few years, with the COVID-19 pandemic and growing economic crisis made the need for this clearer and more important than ever. We cannot build back an economy that works for everyone without ensuring that all women can work with equality, safety, and dignity, starting with pay equity.
This month, Congress took a step toward that goal with the introduction of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which aims to close gaping loopholes in the 1963 Equal Pay Act. The bill would give women the tools they need to successfully challenge pay discrimination and would provide incentives to employers to comply with the law.
Versions of this bill have been considered by Congress many times before, yet Congress fails to make this critical step for equal pay each time. With bipartisan support and the widespread support of the American people, this bill should be passed immediately with all urgency. As a member of AAUW’s [XXX] branch, I urge everyone to call their representatives in Washington D.C. to voice their support for a long-overdue law to ensure that all women are fairly and equitable compensated for their work.
Resources on how to write an LTE/Op-Ed:
Want to engage more?
Check out our full list of advocacy actions to ensure this is the year we pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.
There are lots of ways to get involved with AAUW’s work to advance gender equity. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of women and girls.
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