by Kelli Owens
Government Relations and Public Policy Director, YWCA Northeast Regional Council
Today, April 17, is Pay Equity Day. Discussions abound about how women have or have not cracked the glass ceiling and what’s being done to move low-income women from the sticky floor to self-sufficiency. It’s a newsworthy, noteworthy day – but we need far more than 24 hours to make a lasting and substantial difference.
Let’s step back a minute and take note of where we stand today:
- Decades have passed since the signing of the Equal Rights Act and women are still making 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.
- The poverty rate among single mothers in the U.S. is a staggering 26 percent.
- Unemployed women, who are entering the publicly funded workforce system to gain the skills for the new economy, stay in training longer; are trained for lower-wage jobs; and end up making an average of $6,000 less per year than their male counterparts.
These statistics are just the tip of the iceberg. Yet, they do give us a good idea of how women’s economic progress is at a standstill and how far we need to go to be economically empowered – not only to get ahead but to simply catch up.
That’s why every day – from Pay Equity Day on April 17 to Election Day 2012 on November 6 – we need to beat the drum that women need good jobs… now!
For the next 4,896 hours (or 204 days from Pay Equity Day to Election Day), every candidate at every level of government will try to convince voters that they hold the answers on how to create jobs, decrease unemployment rates, reduce poverty, and restore America’s economy.
Yet women need to go beyond the 30-second sound bites, slick commercials and staged stomp speeches. We need to pay attention to what’s happening with the gender wage gap and job training for women until every vote is counted on Election Day 2012.
Ask the hard questions of those seeking our votes. Question every candidate’s track record on women’s economic empowerment. What will they specifically do to close the gender wage gap? Will they cast their vote for pay equity legislation? And once in office, how will they make sure women are gaining the required skills they need to compete in the new economy?
There is no other time to press these issues; no better moment; no opportunity around the corner.
Now is when we must demand A Good Job For Every Woman.
Kelli Owens is the government relations and public policy director for YWCA’s Northeast Regional Council, and formerly served as the community development and education director for YWCA Mohawk Valley in Utica, N.Y. She has also worked for the New York State Department of Labor, where she was responsible for achieving a coordinated and effective public workforce system that included unemployment and re-employment programs, TANF, Vets, and WIA. Kelli lives in New Hartford, N.Y. with her two children. Follow her on Twitter at @KelliOwens.
YWCA USA is a partner in HERvotes, a coalition of leading women’s organizations focused on mobilizing women voters in 2012 around preserving women’s Health and Economic Rights (HERrights.) This post is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.