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Wednesday
Apr022014

4/2/14 - Celebrating Equal Pay Day for Women: Mothers make 71 Cents on a Man’s Dollar -- Time to Celebrate?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Celebrating Equal Pay Day for Women
Mothers make 71 Cents on a Man’s Dollar -- Time to Celebrate?

Connecticut River Valley Students Partner with MotherWoman to Storm Northampton’s “Arts Night Out” and Advocate Equal Pay for Women.

Contact: Liz Friedman, MotherWoman Program Director 
Cell: (413)-658-2341, Office: (413)-387-0703, Email: liz@motherwoman.org

For Photo Op Contact: Leigh Edwards, Policy and Advocacy Intern 
Cell: 978-895-3827, Email: advocacy@motherwoman.org

Northampton’s “Arts Night Out”, taking place on April 11, 2014, will be filled with Connecticut River Valley Students from Mount Holyoke and other campuses, advocating and educating on Equal Pay Day. Equal Pay Day is a symbolic day that illustrates how far into the year a woman must work to earn the same amount made by a man in the previous year. This year’s Equal Pay Day will be April 8th, 2014, and on the 11th the student advocates will be talking with Northampton attendees of Arts Night Out about Equal Pay Day, and the social issues that inhibit women from being paid equally to their male counterparts. They will be dressed in Americana attire, will hand out balloons, and distribute flyers that highlight the disparities that unequal pay perpetuates. The flyer will contain a link to an online survey regarding policy issues, and those who participate in the survey will be entered into a raffle.  MotherWoman, a local non-profit that works to support mothers and their families, through advocating for public policy, is sponsoring this Equal Pay Day event, while working alongside students in the valley to raise awareness about this pressing issue. 

In 1963, John F. Kennedy passed the “Equal Pay Act” which aimed to end any and all wage discrimination based on a person’s gender, and ultimately promoted equal pay for workers, male and female. Since 1963, the gender wage gap has improved, but has yet to be eradicated entirely. 

Women’s median full-time earnings are 77% of a man’s median full-time earnings; black women’s earnings are 64%; and Latinas earnings are 54%. These disparities in median full-time earnings for women stem from the fact that women are discriminated against, often have to work less due to family responsibilities, and are pigeonholed into the low-wage job sector. On average, women will lose $434,000 during their lifetime due to the wage-gap. This wage-loss could feed a family of four for 37 years, purchase 14 new cars, or could buy two homes.

Women in the United States are burdened with the majority of family responsibilities, and in countries that promote progressive, family-oriented social policies, like paid maternity/paternity leave, flex time and job protection, the wage gap is strikingly lower. Mothers, specifically single mothers of color, are more likely to experience poverty than any other demographic, and this is likely because they are the demographic least supported by policies within the United States. Poverty is known to have detrimental effects on children, as they are more likely to experience malnutrition, will be exposed to a lower-quality education, and are more likely than a child who doesn’t grow up in poverty, to experience poverty themselves. The lack of affordable daycare/assistance, no mandatory maternity leave/paid maternity leave, and no option for paternity leave, often leave women fending for themselves, and their children.

Leigh Edwards, a student at Mount Holyoke College and the organizer of the Equal Pay Day Celebration commented, “In the US, motherhood is treated as a hobby, and leaves no safety net for women once they have children. It’s scary to know that if I ever decide to become a mother, through whatever means, there will be no safety net to help protect my family. If policies were in place that allowed women more options and flexibility for their families, such as affordable or universal childcare, paid maternity/paternity leave, the wage gap would decrease.”

The low-wage job sector is an integral part of our functioning economy, and 2/3 of this low-wage sector is comprised of women workers. These positions are drastically underpaid, and according to The Center for American Progress, 27% of the gender wage gap can be attributed to this occupational segregation and inadequate compensation. The Council of Economic Advisors argues that if the minimum wage were raised to a living wage, this part of the gender age gap would decrease by nearly 5%.

According to the Center for American Progress, increasing the minimum wage to just $10.10 per hour would affect 58.6% percent of Massachusetts’s women. That figure accounts for almost 301,000 women in Massachusetts, many of whom are single mothers supporting their families. 

Shannon Koehn, MotherWoman’s Executive Director stated, “Perhaps we will see the day when womanhood and motherhood will no longer hinder a woman’s financial progress. This is why MotherWoman is in full support of social policies like the Living Wage and Earned Paid Sick Time legislation in Massachusetts, as well as paid maternity and paternity leave.”  Both the Living Wage and Earned Paid Sick Time legislation will be on the ballot for Massachussetts’ voters to weigh in on in November 2014.

MotherWoman is spearheading the Equal Pay Day event in Northampton, on April 11, 2014. This event will aim to educate the public on myths about the wage gap, and highlight that policies like paycheck fairness, living wage and earned paid sick time, have a direct impact on decreasing the wage gap. 

MotherWoman
MotherWoman serves mothers and families through support groups and training with community leaders and professionals to facilitate groups for mothers across the region. MotherWoman trains medical, mental health and social service professionals about postpartum depression and anxiety. They have developed and continue to host county-based multi-disciplinary coalitions in implementing their nationally recognized Community-based Perinatal Support Model. MotherWoman engaging mothers, fathers and caregivers in taking action on policies that impact families. http://www.motherwoman.org