Equal Pay Day is observed on March 15 this year in the United States, but the date changes each year. However, Equal Pay Day is an annual observance that symbolizes the ongoing issue of pay disparity and the wage gap between men and women. The date itself symbolizes how far into the year must women work to make as much as men during the previous year. As such, this holiday usually occurs around March or September. Did you know that most countries have a wage gap between men and women?
History of Equal Pay Day
The issue of equal pay between male and female employees has been addressed regularly for quite some time, with legislation and changes occurring steadily in many countries. Yet, this is still an issue requiring urgent attention even today. The first national legislation to pass on this issue was the Equal Pay Law, which was ratified by John F. Kennedy in 1963.
From the 1970s onward, women employees were increasingly becoming a significant addition to the workforce in several industries. Although there were laws protecting women’s pay equity, these were not always respected. Several studies were conducted during the late 1990s and early 2000s illustrating this issue. The gender wage gap has proved to be a much more pressing question.
The Equal Pay Day observance was first organized in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity as an initiative to raise awareness of wage disparity and demonstrate its effects on women. The main goals of this observance were to raise awareness of the issue and implement strategies to close this gap.
In 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helped reinforce some rights granted to female employees against discrimination and wage disparity. Currently, the wage gap between men and women is still a pressing matter, in some countries more than others, but as more and more initiatives are taken, it helps bring more attention to the issue and usher in new changes.
Equal Pay Day timeline
Western Union Telegraph Company workers go on a wide strike demanding equal pay for equal work.
After a long struggle, female teachers in New York are granted the same pay as male teachers for the first time.
President Kennedy signs the Equal Pay Law, granting equal wages to men and women.
The National Committee on Pay Equity organizes the first Equal Pay Day.
Equal Pay Day FAQs
How often do women face unfair pay practices?
It depends on the country and the regulations in place. Although the working conditions of women have greatly improved in recent decades, there are still cases where women face unfair treatment in the workplace.
What is the goal of Equal Pay Day?
Like most annual celebrations dealing with social issues, the goal is to raise awareness about the issue and mobilize communities to take action.
When was the first Equal Pay Day?
The first observance of Equal Pay Day was launched in 1996, organized by the National Committee on Pay Equity.
How to Observe Equal Pay Day
Read about the history of the cause
Reading the history behind the long struggle for equal wages between men and women is the first step in understanding its significance. Beginning this process on Equal Pay Day would be the most appropriate way to observe this special day.
There are numerous collectives, associations, and initiatives focused on spreading the message of equal pay. These are generally organized around the year and will mostly be very active on this date. Joining the efforts can be an engaging experience and could begin a lifelong journey of raising awareness of important social issues.
Raise awareness about the cause
Raising awareness can be done in a myriad of ways. As part of a collective, or individually, we can all contribute to this cause. Equal Pay Day is indeed a demonstration set to raise awareness of the issue. As such, contributing to raising awareness of the issue would be the perfect way to observe it.
5 Facts About The Wage Gap
Women earn less
As of today, and in many parts of the world, women generally earn less than men, despite the significant progress made.
More than one occasion
Many annual observances and holidays are dedicated to equal pay, making this issue one of the most observed in the world.
The wage gap has a number
In the U.S., women make 83% of men's wages, which would amount to approximately $500 billion per year.
The pay gap exists in all professions
According to several studies, women make less than men in almost all professions.
Women face an income gap in retirement
The wage gap affects women’s savings, ultimately leading to an income gap during retirement.
Why Equal Pay Day is Important
It sheds light on the wage gap
The fight for equal pay between men and women dates back at least a century, with several historical antecedents. There has been significant progress in many parts of the world, but the fact that women are still paid less than men for the same amount of work is proof that more effort is needed.
It demonstrates that women always have to work harder
Whether to establish a position in a male-dominated field, or earn as much money as male co-workers, or climb up the corporate ladder, women still have to put in twice the effort. The issue weighs on women, who represent 48 % of the global workforce.
It promotes equity
Ensuring equity in professional fields is still an issue in the modern-day economy. Equal Pay Day, along with other international observances focusing on the same issue, is a reminder of this fact. As women suffer from such inequalities, it will draw a clear distinction between the business practices of today and a genuinely equitable work environment.
Equal Pay Day dates