Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Women's Equality Day

It was a mere 89 years ago today (and almost 150 years after this country was founded) that American women finally gained the long sought after right to vote. Despite the enormity of that triumph, advancement has been gradual in the ceaseless struggle for equality. So on August 26th, Women's Equality Day, let us celebrate the progress that has been made while recognizing how far we still have to go:
  • On average women only earn 76% as much as men do. This disparity increases for women of color, with Black women making 65% and Hispanic women a mere 53% of the average male's salary. The wage gap is pervasive across the spectrum, though as of 2000 two-thirds of all working women were segregated into only 21 of the 500 occupational categories, known as "pink-collar" jobs.
  • For women over the age of 65 who are unmarried, Social Security makes up 52% of their total income, compared to retired single men for which it is only 38% of their income. If Social Security is taken away the poverty rate for older women would significantly increase from 12.4% to over 50%.
  • America has no nationally mandated maternity leave policy and is ranked last in a recent study of 21 high-income countries' parental leave policies.
  • Including the newly appointed Justice Sonia Sotomayor, only 3 of the 111 Supreme Court Justices have been female.
These facts merely touch on the vast gender inequality that still exists in the United States. Furthermore, women of color are disproportionately affected in negative ways when it comes to social issues. To celebrate Women's Equality Day consider signing a petition for reproductive justice, volunteering at a local women's center, or contacting your elected officials about the current healthcare crisis. Some helpful websites for taking action are the National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood and Madre.

Facts taken from and

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