Monday, August 30, 2010

Women weren't given the right to vote; we fought for it

Ninety years have flown by since the passage of the 19th Amendment.

What do you think those fearless women and men who fought for women's right to vote would think if you told them they could only get paid 77 cents for every dollar a man earns for comparable work? [According to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the gap between men's and women's median earnings widened slightly between 2007 and 2008, from 78 percent to 77 percent for full-time, year-round workers.]

What do you think they would think of the small number of women in House and Senate?

Wouldn't they think there might be a connection?  Here's how these two issues are intertwined:

Women get paid less because there's no place to turn for protection under the law. The House has already  passed the Paycheck Fairness Act. More than once. If the Senate hasn't passed it before they adjourn in a few weeks, we start over again at the beginning. Again.

Here in NY, our elected representatives have played games with pay equity legislation, as they have with so many other issues. So, we don't have protection at the state level, either. I think Susan B. Anthony is right.
“There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers.” -- Susan B. Anthony

 While many men say they support equal pay, they don't seem to be in office. Or, they aren't exerting their influence to get this legislation passed. And, nationally, the number of women in office may actually drop.

An article today by Lisa Mascaro in the LA Times said: 
Women now hold 90 [of 435] seats in Congress: 69 are Democrats and 21 are Republicans. After the November election, Congress could end up with as many as 10 fewer female members, prognosticators now say, the first backslide in the uninterrupted [slow] march of women to Washington since 1978.
So, here are a few things you can do:
  • Take Action: Ask our representatives what specific things they will do now to ensure that pay equity legislation is passed now
  • Ask every candidate this fall for their position on pay equity and whether they will provide leadership for passing pay equity and comparable worth legislation.
  • Reach out to friends and family in other states, especially those with senators uncommitted or opposed to the Equal Pay Act, asking them to take action. You can find Congressional voting records on "women's issues" .here.
  • Think about the women you know who would make strong candidates for office now or in the future. Encourage them to think about running. There are lots of resources available to help women sort out what it takes and whether to run. You can find a few here.
  • Subscribe to the Two-minute Activist to stay abreast of these issues.

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