Group gathers on ‘Equal Pay Day’ to urge equality for women

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Felicia Cowden uses a cell phone to live stream the Equal Pay Day proclamation being issued by Kauai County Council members Mason Chock, Mel Rapozo, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., Derek Kawakami, and Kaulana Finn, representing Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. Accepting the honor are members of the Zonta Club and the Committee on the Status of Women, including Edie Ignacio-Neumiller, Jaime Bucao, Lisa Ellen Smith, Sharon Lasker, Kathy Crowell, and Patsy Rapozo.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    The Zonta Clubs of Kauai and Hanalei and the Committee on the Status of Women observe Equal Pay Day being presented by Kauai County Council members Mason Chock, Mel Rapozo, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s representative Kaulana Finn, Edie Ignacio Neumiller, Derek Kawakami, Jamie Bucao, Sharon Lasker, Lisa Ellen Smith, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., Kathy Crowell, and Patsy Rapozo, Monday at the Moikeha Building.

LIHUE — In Hawaii, women earn about 80 cents to every dollar a man earns. For indigenous Hawaiian and immigrant women, that percentage drops even more.

“Native Hawaiian women’s cents-on-the-dollar comparison to white men, fell from 64 cents in 2017, to 63 cents in 2018,” said Khara Jabola-Carolus, executive director for the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, in a statement to TGI.

That’s why about 20 people gathered Tuesday at the Mo’ikeha Rotunda in the Lihue Civic Center to raise awareness for the nationwide issue of unequal pay for women.

April 10 was selected for Equal Pay Day because it symbolizes how far into the year women in the United States must continue to work, to earn what men earned in the previous year.

Last year, Equal Pay Day, she said, was one week earlier.

“Which means the pay gap has worsened,” she said.

Lihue resident Edie Ignacio Neumiller, vice chair of The Committee of the Status of Women and member of the Zonta Club of Kauai, who co-sponsored the rally along with the Zonta Club of Hanalei, told the crowd that women in every state experience the pay gap.

“Women face the pay gap in every occupation,” she said. “More education helps increase women’s earnings, but it still doesn’t close the gender gap.”

That gender gap, she said, is even worse for mothers and only grows with age.

Women, she said, are still paid less for equal work.

“Eliminating the wage gap is good for women and the economy,” she said. “I remember in the 70s when we tried to break the glass ceiling and let me tell you, we’re still trying to break the glass ceiling,” she said.

With movements like #metoo and #timesup and more women lawmakers taking office, Ignacio Neumiller said things are different.

“More women are starting to step up and getting into the Legislature, so maybe with more women getting into the Legislature and Congress, and state offices, more bills will get passed,” she said.

Currently in Hawaii, there are three bills before the Senate and the House that will help put an end to unequal pay. SB2351would prevent employers from inquiring about women’s past pay, and HB2598 and SB2990, which are family leave bills.

Kaulana Finn, representing Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, said wage discrimination in Hawaii is an issue.

“Wage discrimination effects women and hard working families here on Kauai and all across our islands and our country, who are trying to pay their bills, put food on the table and make ends meat,” she said

According the National Partnership for Women and Families, working women in Hawaii make just 84 cents for every dollar paid to men, creating a wage gap of more than $7,000 per year, she said.

Because of the pay gap issue, Gabbard has co-sponsored legislation such as the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will help level the playing field by increasing protections for employees and strengthening abilities to challenge pay discrimination under the law.

In his proclamation, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., said though it’s been 50 years since the passage of the Equal Pay Act, women, especially minority women, continue to suffer the consequences of unequal pay.

“Fair pay equity policies can be implemented simply and without undo cost and hardship in both the public and private sector. Fair pay strengthens the security of families today,” he said.


Bethany Freudenthal, Courts, Crime and County reporter, 652-7891

  1. Jake April 11, 2018 5:36 am Reply

    “In Hawaii, women earn about 80 cents to every dollar a man earns”

    I guess if you say something enough, then the weak minded will believe it.

    What is never in these articles: Men gravitate towards jobs that are high risk, high stress, high travel, irregular hours, and they don’t care that much about Healthcare and Retirement programs. Women gravitate towards jobs that are low risk, lower stress, little-to-no travel, regular hours, better vacations, better Healthcare, and better retirement program (Quality of Life). Men only care about one thing, “How much does it pay”?

    18 people die each day on the job. 90% are men. Not too many people dying as Elementary School teachers, Nurses, and Administrative Assistants. All noble endeavors, but higher risk = higher pay.

    Stop the madness!

  2. RG Desoto April 11, 2018 8:04 am Reply

    The gender pay gap…another PC myth. A perfect red herring.


    RG DeSoto

  3. Knowitall April 11, 2018 5:41 pm Reply

    No such thing as a gender pay gap anymore. . . . You must factor in time taken off when bearing children and returning to workforce years later. Obviously being out of the workforce would result in less pay for less experience

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