This week the US “commemorated” Equal Pay Day, which isn’t a real holiday and shouldn’t be a celebration of anything. It is the day where women have to work into the next year to earn as much as men earned as of December 31st of the previous year. In other words, to make the same amount of money that men made in 2018, women have to work until April 2nd, 2019 to make the same amount.
In the US, women make on average 80% less than men. There is a much larger gap for non-asian and non-white women, which is even more ridiculous.
The fact that we continue to need to “commemorate” this day at all in the year 2019 is baffling to me. The fact that in the very advanced culture and economy of the US (and almost all other countries around the world) still has such a huge gap is disturbing. The fact that we haven’t made any significant progress towards closing this gap is even more troubling, especially given the focus that has been placed on it in the last 20 years.
Change is a slow process (even though it doesn’t have to be). The effect that this slow change has on the women, their families, the economy, and the social system is significant. Time Magazine calculated that “a typical woman who works from age 16 to 70 will make $590,000 less than a man working an identical span”.
Imagine what can be done with that kind of money on a weekly, monthly, annual, or lifetime basis. The economic effect to the world’s economy would be startling, let alone the personal effect that could have on each individual woman or her family’s. The impact to the economy is:
- 1+ additional year of tuition and fees for a four-year public university
- 74 more weeks of food for her family
- 7 more months of mortgage and utility payments, or
- 14 more months of childcare
This doesn’t take into account the effect of inequity of pay on better health. Equal pay for food could be used on healthier food. Equal pay would allow preventative doctor visits for routine screenings and required care instead of burdening the health system. Equal pay would allow a woman to take care of herself in addition to her family without having her to choose between sending her children to school, go to work, or purchase food and instead contribute to the global economy.
The effect of Equal Pay is quantified and clarified. The United States economy would have produced additional income of $447.6 Billion if women received equal pay; this represents 2.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Yet the studies say that it will take until 2059 to close the gap. Can society really wait that long? Can we wait that long for the economic contributions of all the women around the world who currently don’t have Equal Pay?