Equal Pay Day

Equal Pay Day is an observance day which was started to raise public awareness of the pay gap between men and women. This holiday isn’t celebrated on the same day each year. Instead, it is celebrated on the date that symbolizes how far into the year a woman has to work in order to earn what men earned the following year and this changes from year to year and country to country. For instance, in the United States in 2005, this day fell on April 19th and in 2016 in the U.S it was celebrated on April 12th – representing that an average women earned about 21% less than the average male that year.

History of Equal Pay Day

This holiday can trace its roots back to 1979. This is when a coalition that was comprised of women’s rights organizations, professional associations, women’s civil rights organizations, religious institutions, educational associations and labor unions came together and formed the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE). This organization was formed to eliminate sex and race-based wage discrimination and to achieve pay equality for women. Over the years, several efforts have been made to fix gender pay discrimination and eliminate the gender pay gap.

In 1996, the NCPE observed Equal Pay Day for the first time. In 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into law in the United States on January 29th of that year by President Obama. This law makes it easier for women to challenge pay that they feel is unequal. President Obama also created the National Equal Pay Task Force in 2009 to bring a number of different governmental agencies together to fight against violations of equal pay laws. Some of the departments in this task force include the Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

President Obama used an executive order in 2014 to prevent federal contractors from discriminating against employees who inquire or even discuss their pay. This allows worker’s pay to be transparent, so workers can find out if their employers are violating equal pay laws and be able to seek appropriate solutions.

When the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, women made, on average, around 59 cents of every dollar men made. In 2016, things have gotten a little bit better but the average woman still only makes 79 cents for every dollar the average man makes, and for black and Hispanic women the pay gap is even larger. In 2016, non-Hispanic black women earned about 60 cents on the dollar as compared to men and Hispanic women made approximately 55 cents on the dollar. It’s apparent that there is still more work that has to be done before pay equality is a reality and gender discrimination is eliminated.

Equal Pay Day Customs & Traditions

Those who want to celebrate Equal Pay Day can do so in a number of different ways. They can celebrate the day through activism by contacting their lawmakers and urging them to support equal pay legislation that may be in Congress. To raise awareness, they can host an “unequal bake sale” in which men pay full price but women get a discount of 21 percent. People can also celebrate the day by hosting a forum in their communities, getting the word out about gender inequality issues and by participating in activities which bring media attention to the issues of gender discrimination and wage inequality.

Where is Equal Pay Day celebrated?

There is no specific location where this holiday is celebrated.
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