Ninety-three years after women fought for and secured the right to vote, women still do not get paid as much money as their male counterparts. Women are fighting for our country, obtaining college degrees at higher rates than men, and achieving at all levels in the workplace, but they receive just 77 cents on the dollar of what men make. As part of her new Pledge to Women and Families, Katherine Clark promises to prioritize the fight for equal pay in Washington.
"Progress is long overdue in correcting pay inequities that women face every day," said Clark, a Democratic state senator from Melrose. "It's unfathomable that in 2013, the most advanced nation in the world cannot pass common sense legislation to ensure that women are treated as equals at their jobs."
On Women's Equality Day, Katherine unveiled her congressional agenda, My Pledge to Women and Families, which she will share with voters in the district's 24 cities and towns:
Achieving true pay equity for women
Standing up for our families by increasing the minimum wage and securing family and medical leave for workers
Making real progress for our kids by funding early education and quality childcare
Defending the right of women to make their own health care decisions, preserve access to quality health care, and protect their well-being
Strengthening our communities by taking action on gun safety
Keeping our promises to seniors by protecting Social Security and Medicare
"The time is now to put women and families front and center in the conversation in Congress," Clark said. "Progress on pay equity, an increase in the minimum wage, effective gun safety measures and improved education for our kids can't wait any longer."
As a public service attorney, school committee member, Assistant Attorney General and state legislator, Katherine has dedicated her entire career to fighting for women and families. As a mother of three boys in public schools and a daughter who helps care for her aging parents, Katherine understands the decisions and struggles that families face each day -- something that seems to be missing among the Republican extremists in Congress who refuse to confront our country's most difficult issues.
"The conversation in Washington needs to change," Clark said. "We need to have the courage to stand up for the progressive values that make a real difference in people's lives."
Progress can't wait on equal pay
Katherine outlined her goals on Women's Equality Day as the federal government recognizes the progress made on women's rights since 1920. It's been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, and he noted in his remarks that the average woman worker earns only 60 percent of the average wage for men. Remarkably, those numbers have improved to only 77 percent in 50 years.
Even at the top of the ladder, women who are CEOs earn about 17 percent less than male CEOs. In Washington, Katherine would support the Paycheck Fairness Act, because it's disgraceful that the average woman will have earned $431,000 less than a man by age 65.
"Pay equity isn't a women's issue. It affects everyone, because when women are paid what they are worth, then it becomes a little easier for families to put food on the table, save money for college or help an aging parent," Clark said. "The women I meet are appalled that they continue to make less than they deserve. The dads I talk to want to make sure that their daughters are treated fairly."
The Paycheck Fairness Act takes important steps to close loopholes and modify the Equal Pay Act to protect employees and put the pressure on employers to justify differences in pay between men and women.
In Massachusetts, Katherine has been a leading voice for women in the workplace. In the State House, she is a co-sponsor of a bill to help identify and rein in any potential discrimination by legally defining comparable work. Katherine has also pushed for funding for the Center for Women and Enterprise (CWE), which has a proven track record of helping small business owners succeed, create jobs, and spur the economy. She helped pass a bill that prohibited insurance companies from using gender as a factor in the sale and payout of an annuity policy. Katherine has also sponsored legislation to bar insurance companies from discriminating on the basis of sex when setting health insurance rates or defining covered benefits.
"To say that the Paycheck Fairness Act is long overdue is an understatement," Clark said. "I'll continue to fight for the day when we as a country can say that there are no more glass ceilings left to break through. We owe it to future generations to finally ensure that women are treated as equals."