WASHINGTON – On Equal Pay Day, President Barack Obama designated a new national monument to honor women’s equality while officials all over the District talked pay equity.
The Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Museum was designated the newest national monument Tuesday. It has been the site for women’s equality for over a century.
“Is it we the people? Or is it we the partial people? Or is it we the people who deserve to be paid less?” Arquette asked.
Arquette won an Oscar for best supporting actress for her performance in “Boyhood.” She ended her acceptance speech by saying it is time for women to have equal pay.
The Democratic staff of the Joint Economic Committee released a new report this month with data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau. The report shows women working full time, year round, on average earn 79 percent of what a man earns working full time, year round.
Women make up half of the population, and Arquette said this should make lawmakers want to address the issue since they make up the majority of the voting bloc.
“Instead, women have been improperly protected from gender-based economic discrimination in the workplace by our own government and our leaders,” she said.
Maloney said she is working to help women know their rights and to get gender equality in the Constitution by pushing for the Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA has been introduced consistently since a ratification effort failed in the early 1980s.
“Many women who are suffering the effects of gender discrimination may be unaware that it is occurring or afraid they may be fired if they ask about pay or promotion opportunities,” she said.
The report shows the gender pay gap grows with age. Women ages 18 to 24 earn 88 percent of what their male counterparts earn, while women over age 35 earn 76 percent.
“Today is an important reminder of the injustice of unequal pay and the harm it inflicts on women and their families,” Maloney said.
Obama welcomed ranking female officials and professional women’s tennis player Billie Jean King to the designation of the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Museum as a national monument. He singled out Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., the longest-serving female member of Congress. She is retiring this year.
Obama said pay equality should be a fundamental principal of the economy.
“It’s the idea that whether you’re a high school teacher, a business executive, or a professional soccer player or tennis player, your work should be equally valued and rewarded, whether you are a man or a woman,” Obama said.
Asked about how she became an activist for equal pay, Arquette said the financial struggles her mother faced when raising her children and the financial struggles she faced herself made her want to push for change.
“I know what it was like, at 20, to struggle to buy diapers and food while we lived in a converted garage,” she said. “While I’ll tell you it’s not easy, it’s way harder when you’re being underpaid.”
In honor of Equal Pay Day, some Democratic women opened a lemonade stand for the day across the street from the Republican Party headquarters, charging women 79 cents per cup and men $1 to demonstrate the wage gap.
Time magazine created a pay gap calculator that shows the difference in pay by factoring in gender, occupation and age. If a woman enters in her age and occupation, she can see the average pay difference between her and a man in the same position. The results are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau from 2008 to 2012.
Reach reporter Tia Rinehart at tia.Rinehart@scripps.com or 202-408-1490. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
Download photos: Equal-Pay.zip