Thursday, January 23, 2014

Time To Close The Gap

Yesterday was the forty-first anniversary of the iconic Roe vs. Wade decision that allowed women to finally have the rights already guaranteed to every American by the Fourth Amendment. Those rights, among others, include the rights to both privacy and control over what happens with one's own body. Aside from the generic story about the anniversary, or the random story about anti-choice protestors, there wasn't really much media coverage of the day compared to past years - which somehow doesn't entirely surprise us this year.

As Will Saletan of Slate wrote yesterday, in multiple polls over the last year, most Americans agree: in most cases citizens believe abortion should be legal. Digging further into the polls Saletan cites, most Americans also appear to agree with Hillary Clinton's often-cited position on the issue: That it should be safe, legal, and rare, and that everything from adoption to contraception should be used to limit the number of potential abortions.

While a small group of hardheaded fools still refuse to accept the facts, the poll numbers Saletan cites reflect the reality that - effectively - issue has been decided. So it's little wonder to us that Wednesday's anniversary passed quietly, for the most part. However, as journalist Irin Carmon made clear in an online discussion Wednesday, no one should think the fight for women to retain control over their own bodies is over.

There's an even bigger story about women in America that most of the media has also missed this month, and it's about women and income inequality in America. You might even say there's a canyon between where women in America stand economically, and where the rest of the income distribution is in our society today.

The latest edition of The Shriver Report was released earlier this month, and focuses on many different subjects in lives of American women, including a significant amount of detail on women and poverty in America. Currently, two-thirds of American women consider themselves the primary breadwinner in their household. Yet, one in three American women live at or near the poverty line.

The geography of the gender wage gap isn't uniform for every city and state in America, but the male-female pay gap in America has effectively stalled out since about the year 2000, and women are still earning about 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man in America. America may finally have a woman at the head of the Federal Reserve, but there's only one Janet Yellen, while there are millions of other American women working just as hard, yet only getting 3/4 the pay of men.

While there are many different policies that could help level the playing field, the biggest single move to both attack poverty and raise the wages of female workers would be to raise the minimum wage to a living level - at least $10.10 per hour. Since one-third of American women are already at or near the poverty line, raising the minimum wage to a living wage would also raise the base standard of living for most of those women.

As the Shriver Report details, we also need to change the policies which contributed to the severe economic inequality that's allowed the top one-tenth of one percent to take nearly all the income gains since the year 2000.

As the weather continues to make it less than pleasant in much of America to get outside, we invite you to stay inside & read the report. Check out the details. Then find out which politicians support your daughters, sisters, mothers, and female friends - and support them this year.

It's time America eliminated our national gender wage gap. Long past time, really.