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Women earn less than 77 percent what men earn; Obama pushes equal pay

valerie jarrett

Media outlets are acting as if equal pay for women is new to President Barack Obama’s agenda. We’re here to dispel the myth. The name Lilly Ledbetter has been the topic of the President’s conversations for quite some time. The scrutiny comes following his signing of an executive order which bans federal contractors from sanctioning employees who discuss their pay.

Valerie Jarrett, the chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, comments on the move, “It’s very difficult for women to know they are being discriminated against if they can’t talk to one another about compensation.”  The White House senior advisor joined Twitter in 2012 using the handle @vj44 to leverage the social media platform to push for the Paycheck Fairness Act. This is not an agenda Obama drummed up as a distraction to Obamacare, as some are reporting.

During his speech in the White House’s East Room on Tuesday, April 8, Obama says following an address by Lilly Ledbetter, the trailblazer for the equal pay for equal works effort, “Sometimes when you — when we discuss this issue of fair pay, equal pay for equal work, and the pay gap between men and women, you’ll hear all sorts of excuses about, ‘well, they’re child-bearing, and they’re choosing to do this, and they’re this and they’re that and the other.’ … The first time Lilly and I stood together in this room was my tenth day in office, and that’s when we signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; first bill I signed into law.

“Today, the average full-time working woman earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns; for African American women, Latinas, it’s even less. And in 2014, that’s an embarrassment. It is wrong. And this is not just an issue of fairness. It’s also a family issue and an economic issue, because women make up about half of our workforce and they’re increasingly the breadwinners for a whole lot of families out there.  So when they make less money, it means less money for gas, less money for groceries, less money for child care, less money for college tuition, less money is going into retirement savings.”

In a Presidential Memorandum, Obama instructs labor secretary Tom Perez to craft legislation that requires contractors to [provide] data to the Department of Labor that outlines compensation, sex and race.

Forthcoming, the Senate will be tasked with considering the Paycheck Fairness Act which will require companies to be transparent and prove the pay difference between the sexes are independent of gender.

Obama continues to emphasize the importance of this bill; “Equal Pay Day means that a woman has to work about this far into 2014 to earn what a man earned in 2013. Think about that. A woman has got to work about three more months in order to get what a man got because she’s paid less. That’s not fair.  That’s like adding an extra six miles to a marathon.”