GREENSBORO, N.C. — Hundreds of women, working people and allies hit the streets of Durham on Friday to celebrate women’s equality and to rally in support of new laws that would provide North Carolina women with greater economic stability.
An estimated 1,200 women, workers and advocates participated in a march and rally to honor women’s progress and bring greater attention to the unique challenges they face in the current economy. Participants began their march from the Old Durham County Courthouse and concluded with a rally at Durham Central Park, featuring live entertainment and a proclamation from Durham Mayor William V. Bell. March organizers planned the event to coincide with Women’s Equality Day, which commemorates the certification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
“Today’s march is about standing with women and families. North Carolina’s women are celebrating the progress we’ve made in recent decades, but we’re mindful of the work still in front of us all to ensure equal pay for equal work,” said Gloria De Los Santos, Durham Director of Action NC. “Stubborn gender disparities persist and are holding back too many women and working families in our state from building a better life.”
Despite recent efforts to level the playing field in the workplace, such as the passage of the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, women are still disproportionately affected by discriminatory practices that limit their ability to succeed in a rigged economy. For instance, the average median income for women in North Carolina is only $35,000 annually, which works out to approximately 83 percent of what men earn. At the current rate, North Carolina’s gender wage gap won’t close until 2064.
“What we hear each night on the doors bears out in the real world: it’s tough out there for women. Gender-based discrimination tips the economic scales against us and makes it difficult to raise and sustain a family,” said Carolyn Smith, Working America State Director in North Carolina. “Women need basic work supports, like paid sick leave or paid parental leave. It’s time for elected officials to act.”
“Today’s march sends a clear message to lawmakers in Raleigh that voters support smart policies that stand up for women and families and level the playing field,” added Smith.
Prior to today’s march, working families and women gathered in Raleigh, N.C., on Wednesday, Aug. 26, to urge state lawmakers to pass legislation that would empower women and families and improve their quality of life. Several legislators from around the state signed on to the Women’s Equality platform.
Working America was joined in this effort by Action NC, NC National Organization for Women, WomenNC, NC Women United, NC Women Matter, NC4ERA, Women AdvaNCe - Durham Chapter, NC Black Women’s Roundtable and the NC AFL-CIO.
Working America is the fastest-growing organization for working people who don’t have the benefit of a union on the job. Working America has over 43,000 active members in North Carolina.
Action NC is a nonprofit, grassroots, community organization that empowers low-to-moderate-income communities to take action and win victories on issues of concern to our members. For more information, visit us at www.actionnc.org.
CONTACT: Carolyn Smith