Women call for ‘Equal Pay Day’

LIHUE — How would you like to receive just 70 percent of a cupcake after you paid the full price?

Virginia Beck of the Kauai Committee on the Status of Women asked that question of the park ranger who stopped to see why all the women in red were gathered in the Moikeha Building atrium Tuesday afternoon.

The question posed by Beck to the park ranger caught him with a loss for words before finally uttering, “My wife makes more than I do.”

Beck said the example she used was the basis of a fundraiser for a college where men paid full price for a cupcake, and women, depending on their ethnicity, paid less for the same cupcake. The video which was posted on social media created an uproar with the college receiving threats. She also added that it was one of the most successful fundraising efforts for the college.

Beck was among the group of 16 people, including the Kauai Committee on the Status of Women and the Zonta clubs of Kauai and Hanalei, who celebrated Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. issuing an Equal Pay Day proclamation.

Pay equity is a growing national movement, and states around the country are introducing pay equity legislation with women continuing to recognize the importance of this legislation, states the proclamation.

“We’re about empowering women and support these efforts,” said Carla Kaser and Carroll Gerow, presidents of the Zonta Club of Kauai, and the Zonta Club of Hanalei. “There is legislation pending in the state Senate right now, and the proclamation is our way of demonstrating support for that Senate Bill.”

Janice Bond was equipped with electronic correspondence on the pay-work inequalities, one being from U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell on her urging Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2009 with the intent of putting an end to discrimination and give women the tools they need to identify and confront unfair treatment.

“I’m here because I wanted to see what the Equal Pay Day is about,” said Tessa Belardo, who was one of the few not garbed in red. “I’m not affiliated with any of these groups, but I heard there are women who make 86 cents on the dollar for the work they do, compared to men. This figure gets even lower in minority women.”

Belardo said she does not consider herself a victim of wage inequality.

“I’m lucky because I have a job where I’m being compensated for the work I do,” Belardo said. “But there are women who are not and I’m glad they’re highlighting the gender wage gap. I’m hoping they can resolve this.”

U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, in an electronic correspondence to Bond, said women will have to work an additional 103 days a year before their earnings match the annual salary of a man in the same job. In 2016, most women earn an average of 79 cents for every dollar a man makes in this country. The disparity costs them an average of $430,480 by the time they turn 65 years of age.


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