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August 23rd is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day

August 23, 2016

Wages for women in America continue to lag behind the wages of their White male counterparts, with women earning an average of 78 cents to the dollar. The wage gap widens for Black women, who earn 63 cents for every dollar earned by White men and must work for 20 months in order to make what White men will earn in twelve. [1, 2] August 23, 2016 is recognized as Black Women’s Equal Pay Day to acknowledge this discrepancy and urge policy-makers to eliminate racial pay inequalities.

The wage gap hinders the daily security for women. Over a lifetime, the wage gap results in women having smaller Social Security checks, decreased savings, and less pension income. This significantly impacts women’s long-term financial security – particularly Black women, who lose out on an average of nearly $900,000 in wages over a lifetime. [3]

For survivors of domestic violence, pay inequality can have devastating consequences. Survivors’ safety can be directly linked to their economic stability, and abusers often use financial abuse as a tactic for maintaining power and control over a victim. Limiting survivors’ access to financial resources and employment restricts their ability to regain financial independence and move from short-term safety to long-term stability. In addition, wage discrimination and pay inequality exacerbate financial dependence, creating added barriers to safety and economic independence.

Increasing survivors’ economic stability is at the forefront of our work. We help ensure that survivors have the tools and resources they need through our Economic Justice program. Through our Public Policy program, we fight for legislation that promotes equality and economic opportunity. Paycheck fairness is not just a problem for women; it is also a problem for families. We must push for legislation that addresses the fact that women and families are being shortchanged:

  • The Paycheck Fairness Act strives to update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act by closing loopholes, making it harder for employers to hide discrimination, rewarding companies with good pay practices, and training women and girls in salary negotiation.
  • The SAFE Act ensures survivors do not have to risk their safety to protect their economic security. This act guarantees many protections for survivors including protecting survivors from being fired due to harassment by their abuser, ensuring that survivors who have been separated from employment due to abuse are eligible for unemployment insurance, and creating a national awareness campaign to create a culture of prevention and support for survivors.

[1] Black Enterprise. “What Are We Celebrating on Black Women’s Equal Pay Day?” (2016) http://www.blackenterprise.com/money/wealth-management-money/black-women-equal-pay-day/

[2] AAUW. “The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap.” (2016) http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

[3] NWLC. “Lifetime Wage Gap Losses for African American Women: State Rankings 2014.” (2016) http://nwlc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/African-American-women-lifetime-wage-gaps-2015.pdf