Equal Pay Day was started by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 to highlight the gap between men and women’s wages. Equal Pay Day is held every April to symbolize how far into the year women need to work to make what men did in the previous year, according to the NCPE. It is always on Tuesday to “represent how far into the next work week women must work to earn what men earned the previous week.” In other words, because women earn less on average, they must work longer for the same pay.
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In 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Law, which made it illegal to pay women lower rates for the same job as their male counterparts on the basis of gender. At the time, women earned 59 percent of men’s wages. By 2000, women earned 74 percent of men’s wages.
In 2009, President Barack Obama overturned a Supreme Court decision that said employees could not bring a salary discrimination suit if more than 180 days passed since the initial wage discrimination occurred, even if it had continued, by signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The act prohibits gender-based discrimination and allows women to fight back against discrimination in the workplace regardless of when it began.
However, this number is not true for all women. While women across all races and ethnicities lag behind those of white men, as well as men in their own racial or ethnic group, minority women face greater challenges in this regard. Data from a 2016 study illustrates that while white, non-Hispanic women make 83 cents for every dollar, Black women make 66 cents, and Hispanic women make 60 cents.
It’s clear that women’s fight for pay equity and work opportunities is far from over. In fact, it will take 169 years for the world to completely close the economic gender gap. Equal Pay Day is a reminder that despite some progress, the wage gap persists, and women have ways to go when it comes to economic equality.