A day to remember that Latinas and other women still don’t receive equal pay

LatinaLista — It is no exaggeration to say that women are the backbone of this country. According to the U.S. Census, there are more women in the United States than men — 157.2 million vs. 153.2 million men; more women earn bachelor’s degrees than men — 29.9 million vs. 28.7 million men; more female voters cast ballots than men — 66 percent of women vs. 62 percent of men; and more women, 26.4 million, are in management, professional and related occupations versus men who number 24.7 million in the same occupations.

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With all these stats, there should be no need for a day like today’s nation observance of Equal Pay Day. There should be no discussion that women receive equal pay to men, especially in this day and age. Yet, the truth is that many women are still not receiving the pay they deserve and are entitled to receive.

In nearly every occupation, women are still paid less than men — only 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Some may wonder why it’s a big deal. Aside from the obvious reasons that it’s just not fair or ethical, there is a bigger financial cost to women — on average, a woman could lose up to $1.2 million in income over a lifetime due to the wage gap.

For Latinas, it’s a worst scenario.

According to a recently-released report by the U.S. Department of Labor, “The Hispanic Labor Force in Recovery,” Hispanic women earn on average $52 less per week than Latinos, which amounts to 9 percent less in weekly earnings.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research, which created the Pay Equity and Discrimination initiative and has been tracking the gender wage gap over time, found that if change continues at the same slow pace as it has done for the past fifty years, it will take almost another fifty (until 2057) for women to finally reach pay parity.

As a result of the Pay Equity and Discrimination initiative, it’s been documented that there still exists in the workplace outright discrimination in pay, hiring, or promotions.

To draw attention to this inequity in wages, various activities are being planned across the country. From wearing red as a symbol of how far women and minorities are “in the red” with their pay to a Chicago noon-time rally sponsored by Mujeres Latinas en Acción and fourteen other organizations and government agencies.

The National Committee on Pay Equity has on their web site a kit that organizations can tap into to promote pay equity in their communities.

It’s an issue that some politicians, unbelievably, still need to be convinced is a just cause:

On Nov. 17. 2010, the Paycheck Fairness Act suffered a procedural defeat on a 58-41 vote in the Senate to consider the bill. The bill had been passed by the House of Representatives on Jan. 9, 2009 and had widespread support of the public, as shown in polling, and the White House. All Republicans voted against considering the bill;

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