National Partnership for Women & Families

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From the desk of ... Debra L. Ness

The Imperative to Protect Women's Economic Security

October 22, 2010 | Workplace Fairness

President Obama has made protecting women's economic security a priority since Day One.

The first bill he signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which reversed a harmful U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made it nearly impossible for victims of wage discrimination to seek justice in the courts.

The Fair Pay Act was not just a legislative flash-in-the-pan; rather, it marked the beginning of a deep commitment by the administration to protect women's economic security.

This is evident in a new report released by the White House Thursday that outlines numerous efforts over the last two years to protect and create jobs for women and to keep millions of women and families out of poverty during one of the deepest recessions in the nation's history.

The report covers a wide range of policies supported by the administration that benefit women, including efforts to promote job growth in sectors such as education and health care; support female entrepreneurs and small business owners; invest in programs to encourage girls to pursue male-dominated professions; promote policies to help workers balance work and family responsibilities; expand tax credits that help low-income families; narrow the wage gap; and many others.

These policies—some of which have been implemented and others of which are pending—are critical supports for women, who now comprise nearly 50 percent of the labor force and who are the sole or co-breadwinner in millions of American families.

One of the biggest long-term challenges to women's success in the workplace, however, is wage discrimination. More than four decades after the enactment of the Equal Pay Act, women still are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to men.

We can help right this historic wrong with the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would take important steps toward ending pay discrimination. The House of Representatives has already passed this vital bill, and President Obama Strongly supports it. The Senate has a golden window of opportunity to advance this bill when Congress reconvenes after the November elections. Let's get the Paycheck Fairness Act signed into law now.

Indeed, passing a bill to narrow the stubborn pay gap would be the perfect bookend to a Congress that began with a bold reversal of a ruling that gutted pay protections for women and that has seen considered numerous efforts to protect women's economic security during these difficult times.


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