March is Women’s History Month, a time set aside to celebrate women and their achievements.
Hillary Clinton may very well be the first woman to become president of the United States, which would make her the first female commander-in-chief of the most powerful country in the world.
Women head major Fortune 500 companies, such as Xerox, General Motors, Campbell Soup Co., PepsiCo Inc., IBM and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, to name a few.
Three women sit on the highest court in the land, three are former secretaries of state and our current and former first ladies set in motion national programs to strengthen children and families in areas ranging from obesity to drugs to reading.
So, it seems we have come a long way since male-dominated society considered a woman’s place to be in aprons in the kitchen.
Unfortunately, we have not come far enough.
In spite of these accomplishments, women are still treated as second-class citizens when it comes to compensation, and the snail’s pace that Congress is taking to enact legislation that provides equal pay for equal work is not only insulting, it is downright embarrassing.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2013, women who worked full-time on average earned only 78 cents for every dollar men earned. The figures are even worse for African-American women, who earn about 64 cents, and Hispanic women, who earn a mere 56 cents for each dollar earned by a white male.
The weary old thinking that women’s earnings “supplement” a household’s income doesn’t jibe with the facts.
A record 40 percent of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family, according to 2013 data from the Pew Research Center. Women make up 45 percent of the workforce and 8.6 million (63 percent) are single mothers.
For a country that seeks to blanket the globe with a message of human rights and equality, it puts the credibility of that message in the “do as I say, not as I do” category.
And it doesn’t appear that will change anytime soon.
The Paycheck Fairness Act — an update of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 introduced by Connecticut U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, in 2015 — is before the Subcommittee on Education and Workforce protections. The bill includes prohibitions against sex discrimination in the payment of wages.
But Democrats don’t see it moving forward in a Republican-controlled Congress.
Republicans have twice defeated previous efforts, labeling the bill “condescending” to women and saying it would “lead to job loss and line trial lawyer’s pockets.”
But Carolyn Treiss, executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women in Connecticut, says “it’s beyond me how, at this point in history, anyone can disagree with the simple premise that ‘Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.’”
Women deserve equal pay for equal work. Congress should never allow another Women’s History Month to come and go in which their efforts and achievements are lauded but their paychecks are still relegated to second-class status.
We fail to understand why Congress continues to be short-sighted when it comes to true equality for women. Perhaps its members need bi-focals?