On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, abolishing pay discrimination on the basis of sex. However, fifty-three years later, women still aren’t receiving equal pay.
In 2014, white women in the workforce earned 20% less than white men. This gap doubles for women of color, recent immigrants, and women with disabilities. This is unacceptable.
The Women’s Economic Security Act of 2014 made steps toward equal pay in Minnesota, but there is more work to do. Unfortunately, political forces are a big factor in why equal pay hasn’t happened yet. For example, during the 2016 legislative session here in Minnesota, Republicans refused to act on paid family leave, and instead spent time on six measures to restrict women’s access to healthcare and family planning. In this context, women’s equality seems like it’s still far out of reach.
We are making gains, slowly, but we must demand more. Equal pay is part of a future where everybody does better, and we should be working toward more opportunity for all Minnesotans and Americans, including women.