We marked Equal Pay Day this week, the date symbolizing how far into the year women must work, on average, to catch up to what men earned in 2016. It comes a week earlier this year than it did in 2016, which means that we’ve made some progress, but the gender pay gap still exists, and it also hits women of color particularly hard.
Women deserve equal pay for equal work. Though there is progress, there is not yet parity. We must do better.
I consider women’s empowerment a central objective of my work in Congress, and equal pay is a key issue for me as I seek solutions to help take our country forward:
Fighting For Equal Pay In Congress
I support the Paycheck Fairness Act, a comprehensive bill that would continue that progress. I have also cosponsored several bills to expand paid family leave in the public sector and for the federal workforce. Additionally, I have introduced several bills designed to support the promotion of women to positions of corporate leadership, because studies have shown that companies led by women are more likely to promote women and enact policies that empower women.
Annual Women’s Leadership Conference
Every autumn, I host a women’s conference. Topics have included professional advancement, with panels on resumes, networking and salary negotiation, as well as women’s rights and human rights around the globe. Keynote speeches have been delivered by Maria Contreras-Sweet, who led the Small Business Administration at the time, and by former White House Communications Director Anita Dunn.
The Equal Rights Amendment
In addition to these efforts, I am a cosponsor and vocal supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the House of Representatives, a long-overdue measure to ensure basic fairness in our society. On March 21, Nevada became the first state in 35 years to ratify the ERA, an exciting and historic move forward which leaves the country just two states short of final ratification. Virginia has repeatedly sought to ratify the ERA in recent years, and I hope and believe it will do so someday soon.
Every time I walk through the Capitol Rotunda, I pass a statue of three suffragists: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott. That statue reminds us of great accomplishments in history in the struggle for equality, but it was also intentionally left unfinished by the sculptor to symbolize the status of these women’s work.
Lucretia Mott famously said, “Learning, while at school, that the charge for the education of girls was the same as that for boys, and that, when they became teachers, women received only half as much as men for their services, the injustice of this distinction was so apparent.”
This injustice remains, but so does our resolve to correct it.