Happy Equal Pay Day!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

by Tavae Samuelu

What was that? You had no idea that today was a day that warranted celebration? It’s okay, womyn of color, our day is actually in June. For those of you not in the know (i.e.: me five hours ago), today is the 108th day of 2012, which marks the number of days into the new year that women have to work to earn as much as men did in 2011.

It’s less celebration, more of a reminder that as a womyn, I was paid a whopping 77 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2011, an average of $10,622 in lost wages every year. That’s 88 student loan payments, 53 trips back home to Long Beach, and a year’s worth of birth control for me and 87 of my insured friends with ovaries who don’t want babies. And there’s the rub. Womyn are not only underpaid, but they are also far less likely to receive health care coverage through their employer.

Our friends over at the Center for American Progress just released a briefing revealing how the inequity in health insurance coverage between men and womyn only further expands the gender wage gap. “Women are significantly less likely than men to have access to their own employer-based coverage… So although two-thirds of mothers are either breadwinners or co-breadwinners, their jobs often do not come with health benefits. This translates into women losing an average of $4,508 for single coverage and $10,944 for family coverage in employer contributions to health benefits each year.” The numbers are undeniably shocking, but the impact of this injustice is worse. Low wages paired with rising out-of-pocket medical expenses mean that womyn are being forced to choose between paying medical bills and other necessities.

This briefing doesn’t just name problems. It also proposes viable solutions to what has been misdiagnosed as a womyn’s issue. So, read this and find a way to commemorate Equal Pay Day.