"I don't wanna wait till I'm 48 for fair pay!"
That was the mantra my almost-4-year-old-daughter chanted over and over again last week when we went to Capitol Hill to deliver a message to Congress: 50 years ago the Equal Pay Act was passed but it’s not working. Women still earn, on average 77 to the dollar for the same work – it’s time to finally close the wage gap and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.
What a day!
Hands down, hand-delivering MomsRising member messages and stories to Congress is the thing I love most about my job. It makes me feel humbled and honored all at the same time to be able to bring forward mom voices. I read the stories we deliver, and I imagine the writers sitting at their computers all across the country, taking time out of their busy days to pour their hearts out and share their experiences, hoping to help make a difference for families. And then I get help take those stories to the Hill. It’s an amazing experience. To be sure it’s an experience that is not without a few crazy logistics challenges (one time Donna’s box of diapers decorated to say that “something stinks, we need a change” flew off her car and into the street just blocks from the Capitol) and sometimes there are potty emergencies.
But still, deliveries are my favorite thing to do and last Thursday we had a fantastic event on the Hill with our partners at AAUW, NWLC, 9to5, NCJW and many many more to amp up pressure on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.
The morning started with a press conference (watch a 3 min video clip here) with Leader Pelosi (CA), and Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT), Joaquin Castro (TX), Joyce Beatty (OH) along with Lisa Maatz from AAUW and MomsRising member Clara talking about the impact of unfair pay on women, families and the economy. Over 50 moms, grandmas and kids were there for the press conference and then started walking the halls of Congress delivering books to legislators filled with stories about moms’ experiences pay discrimination along with customized red M&Ms printed with the wage gap. We all wore red to symbolize how the wage gap puts women in the “red” and the kids wore t-shirts with numbers on them showing how old they would be when the wage gap closes if we don’t act.
It was a sight to behold. I wanted to share a few of my favorite pictures with you - so check those out below.
Fifty years after the Equal Pay Act was passed women still earn, on average, 23 percent less than men earn for the same work. Moms and women of color experience increased wage hits on top of that. Further – some recent research estimates that unless action is taken, the wage gap won’t close for another 45 years.
When women don’t earn dollar for dollar that men earn for the same work it’s not only wrong, it’s bad for our economy.
Here’s the good news: MOMentum is on our side. Just this week President Obama called on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act . In the last six months the President has addressed the need for fair pay policies in both his inauguration speech and at the State of the Union, the U.S. Senate took a step forward by creating a reserve fund for Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act without adding to the national deficit. Further, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro has filed a “discharge petition” in the House that, if it gets enough signatures, will force a full House floor vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act. [10,11,12,13]
Working together we can get the Paycheck Fairness Act passed and we can close the wage gap. My daughter will be able to stop chanting, “I don’t want to wait till I’m 48 for fair pay!”
And hopefully she’ll also stop chanting, “I don’t want to wait till I’m 48 for nap time to end” too – which is what she did when we got home. Her 21-month-old sister chimed in too. Long day.
See below for more pictures of our delivery!