GREENSBORO, N.C. — Workers and advocates converged on Raleigh, North Carolina, today to bring an urgent message to lawmakers: Pass legislation that helps women and families succeed in the current economy.
In addition to highlighting personal experiences with discrimination, women and advocates at the event championed specific legislation sitting before the General Assembly that would empower women and families. Enacting these policies, they argued, would provide greater economic stability for women and improve their quality of life. Event organizers used the observance of Women’s Equality Day as a backdrop during the event to underline the need for additional action. The date commemorates the certification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
“I’m struggling to make it in this economy, and trying to balance the pressures of work and home like every other woman I know,” said Jolanda Ware, a student and member of Working America. “It only makes it harder when you know you’re not being paid fairly for the work you do, or there are no policies in place that allow you earn a decent wage to take care of your kids and help them have 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 disproportionally affected by discriminatory practices that limit their ability to succeed in a rigged economy.
“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,” said Gloria De Los Santos, Durham Director of Action NC. “At the current rate, North Carolina’s gender wage gap won’t close until 2064. This is not only bad for individual women, but for all working families throughout the state. We must do better.”
“The General Assembly has not moved quickly enough to address challenges like these that disproportionately hurt women, and the truth is that many women and families across North Carolina are suffering when they don’t have to be,” said State Rep. Bobbie Richardson (HD-7), who spoke at the conference. “Gender-based discrimination tips the scales of our economy against women, making it difficult to raise and sustain a family. I urge my colleagues to join with us today and support legislation that honors the contributions of North Carolina’s women both at home and in the workplace.”
“We know that women account for a considerable portion of the workforce, and the same is true for our members,” said Carolyn Smith, Working America State Director in North Carolina. “What they tell us at their doors bears out in the statistics: Women in the workplace are disproportionately impacted by discrimination, and it dramatically affects their ability to sustain their families.”
“Lawmakers in Raleigh should listen to their constituents and stand with North Carolina’s women and families by passing legislation that benefits us,” added Smith.
Women and working families will convene again on Friday, Aug. 28, in Durham, North Carolina, to participate in a march and rally, bringing additional awareness to these and other issues facing women in North Carolina. 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