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Kirsten Gillibrand's picture

As we all know, there is no harder, or more rewarding job, than being a Mom. But for so many mothers who work outside of the home, it's made even harder by the lack of equal pay for women in our country.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women only make 77 cents on the dollar compared to what men make. For women who are mothers, that pay gap is compounded by what is commonly referred to as the "Motherhood Penalty," which amounts to approximately 5% per child on average.

To illustrate how wide this gap is, Catalyst compared the median income of a working single mother ($24,487) with that of a working single father ($36,290) and found working single moms make just 67 cents on the dollar compared with their male equivalents.

This is a particular problem as more and more women with children are joining the workforce and are contributing significant portions of their household incomes. As Catalyst reports, as of 2010, 70.8% of women with children under the age of 18 worked outside of the home and 39% of working mothers are primary breadwinners. In New York alone, women head more than 1 million households (15 million nationally) and it's estimated that because of the wage gap, New York families are deprived of $8,600 a year, or as much as $10,784 nationwide.The National Partnership For Women And Families estimates this could purchase 2,751 gallons of gas, 13 months of rent, or food for 1.8 years.

As I wrote on Equal Pay Day last month, the gender wage gap is not just about inequity, it's about economic security, and not just for women, but for their families as well. So, for working mothers, the lack of economic security means putting less food on the table, it means feeding their children less healthy food, and it means having less access to quality health care for their children.

As a mother myself, I know that nothing means more to moms than the health and well-being of their children and I can't think of a better Mother's Day gift for American moms than the promise of economic security for their families. One important step we must take is to close the gender wage gap.

In 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which makes it easier for victims of wage discrimination to pursue compensatory damages. That was a good start, but now, I'm pleased that Senator Reid intends to bring The Paycheck Fairness Act up for another vote. This important piece of legislation would amend the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to provide more protections for women in the workplace and punish companies that discriminate against women. Republicans blocked this legislation before and appear poised to filibuster it again.

So, to all mothers this Mother's Day, I urge you to make your voices heard. Talk about this issue with your friends. Call, write and tweet your senators to support The Paycheck Fairness Act. Post this blog post to Facebook, sign our petition, and share them with your friends. Also, make sure that you and all your friends are registered to vote in the November elections and make sure that you support candidates that have your best interests at heart. And when it comes time to vote, remember, it's not just about the Presidential or Congressional elections. Use your voice on the local level where it has the potential to be more widely heard. And, of course, if you feel you can make a difference, run for office yourself.

We must overcome GOP opposition to closing the gender wage gap and together I know we can, not only for all working women, but on behalf of our children whose health and well-being depend on it.

Cross posted with author permission from The Huffington Post.

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