Women fight for equal pay

LIHUE — Edie Ignacio Neumiller of the Kauai Committee on the Status of Women said women in every state experience the pay gap Tuesday at the Moikeha Building.

“Some states are more progressive than others,” said Sharon Lasker, chair of the Kauai Committee on the Status of Women. “Hawaii is one of those progressive states. But they are falling behind. We must keep stirring the pot.”

Members of the Kauai Committee on the Status of Women collected to receive a mayoral proclamation on Equal Pay Day, an event observed to highlight wage discrimination against women.

Cyndi Ayonon, representing Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr., said it has been nearly 48 years since the passage of the Equal Pay Act into law, making it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform substantially equal work.

Equal Pay Day was started by the national Committee on Pay Equity to symbolize how far into the current year a woman must work to earn as much as a man earned the previous year, based on the U.S. Census Bureau statistics of median wages of full-time, year-round workers.

Citing figures from the National Partnership for Women & Families, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said working women in Hawaii make just 84 cents for every dollar paid to men, creating a wage gap of more than $7,000 each year.

Gabbard cosponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act which would strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and guarantee that women can challenge pay discrimination and hold employers accountable.

“Our laws have long supported equal pay for equal work,” Gabbard said in a release. “The realities experienced by working women do not reflect what exists on paper.”

U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono also recognized Equal Pay Day.

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