A diverse group representing over 40 organizations including progressive advocates, health care providers, labor, and women’s organizations came together in support of issues that affect women and families.
Did you know that Thursday, June 20th, a group of women from across the state came together in Trenton to lobby about women's issues? Members of New Jersey's women's organizations including advocates, health care providers and labor in support of issues that affect women and families. They came together to ensure women’s equality in New Jersey by strengthening women’s economic opportunities so that they can support themselves and their families and contribute to their communities.
"By coming together, our groups and women all across NJ can ensure that our concerns get the attention they deserve from Trenton", said Kerry Butch, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey.
They addressed core inequalities that women across New Jersey face:
• Women in New Jersey earn, on average, 77 percent of what men earn, and that wage gap is even more severe for African-American and Latino women who earn percent 68 and 59 percent of that earned by non-Latino men, respectively.
• 30,000 fewer patients are receiving basic preventative health care at family planning providers. Patients have lost access to birth control, cancer screenings and basic gynecological care. Others experienced longer wait times for appointments or had to pay more out of pocket.
• In New Jersey, 1.2 million private sector employees lack paid sick days, including 72% of childcare workers and 76% of food service workers. Nationally, nearly 4 in 10 working women do not have access to paid sick days.
The Women’s Lobby Day promoted pay equity, funding for reproductive health, and earned sick and safe days. Recently, the New York City Council approved a Bill that requires businesses to offer paid time off for sick employees.
Despite the Equal Pay Act and many improvements in women’s economic status over the past 50 years, wage discrimination still persists and is attributable in part to the Equal Pay Act’s limited scope.
“In 2013, it is unconscionable that women continue to face gender-based pay discrimination," said Assembly Women and Children Committee Chairwoman Pamela Lampitt. "The legislation we are advancing has a clear message: equal pay for equal work is the law of the land in New Jersey. By empowering employees and holding employers and the government more accountable, we can hopefully chip away the remaining fragments of the glass ceiling.”
The women's groups support two bills; The NJ Unfair Wage Recovery Act (A4124) and The NJ Wage Transparency Act (A4044). The bills look to acknowledge pay discrimination and call for greater pay transparency.
“Women represent half of the paid workforce, and two-thirds of women are either the primary or co-bread winner for their families,” said AAUW NJ President Sally Goodson. “Pay equity is not just a moral issue; it is an economic imperative with enormous implications not just for women but for working families, communities and the nation’s recovery.”
“We gather today to let our elected officials know that the struggle to balance work and family for working mothers is made more difficult because of the lack of earned sick days. Implementation of an earned sick day policy means that more mothers won’t have to choose between their or a family member’s health or their paycheck when illness strikes,” says Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Executive Director of NJ Citizen Action.
“Despite the tremendous progress we’ve seen in New Jersey over the years, we still have our work cut out for us,” said Shari Weiner, the Political Resources Chair of the Women’s Political Caucus. “Today we stand here together because the issues that affect women affect us all - from increasing access to affordable health care services, to ensuring equal pay, to supporting working mothers and their families.”
I've had my share of rallies and lobbying at the New Jersey State House, which in my opinion is as important of a civic responsibility as voting and jury duty, especially if you want to get the ear of legislators. But, when I watched the Women's Lobby Day on New Jersey Today with Mike Schneider, the message seemed more about Senator Barbara Buono and her race against Governor Christie in this fall's election. I found this disconcerting because it's difficult to discern whether the rally took place to support the Senator or to truly help move these important women's issues forward.
The fact that women make 77% of what men earn, and even less for New Jersey's African-American and Latino families is appalling. Fortunately, both bills passed through the Assembly. If you want to follow the bills go to the New Jersey State Legislature website.
What do you think about pay inequality and the glass ceiling for women in New Jersey and what could we collectively do to change it?
Some of the organizations that supported Women's Lobby Day 2013: Family Planning Association of NJ, League of Women Voters of NJ, New Jersey Citizen Action, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of NJ, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Business & Professional Women of NJ, Monmouth Democratic Women's Caucus, National Association of Social Workers - NJ Chapter, New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club, New Jersey Federation of Democratic Women, New Jersey State AFL-CIO, New Jersey Time to Care Coalition, New Jersey Working Families Alliance and NJ Policy Perspective, and more.