Today is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, a day recognizing the fact that Black women earn 64 cents compared to every $1.00 paid to a non-hispanic white male. For too long, women, especially Black women and those working in low-wage earning and physically demanding positions, have been denied pay equity as a result of our nation’s shameful history of sexism and racism. As we highlighted in a new fact sheet, Black women have the highest labor force participation rates and are often the primary breadwinners and caregivers for their families, yet receive the least recognition for their contributions to the economy.
For young Black women entering the workforce, the wage gap is especially detrimental, particularly for those carrying heavy financial burdens like student debt and facing disproportionate barriers in accessing education and additional employment. These barriers and the resulting pay inequity can have a lasting impact on young Black women’s career trajectory.
This year, we have seen recent promising steps towards closing the wage gap: the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and PUMP Act, two key pieces of federal legislation that will help pregnant, postpartum, and lactating workers, especially workers of color in low-wage, physically demanding jobs, access the accommodations they need to maintain healthy pregnancies and stay attached to the workforce. A Better Balance continues to work tirelessly with state and local partners to educate workers on these new rights, particularly in the South where there may be limited workplace protections. This week, we joined our partners at the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable and Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia for a series of dynamic conversations on how these two federal laws will empower pregnant and lactating workers in Mississippi and Georgia. But still, there is progress left to be made towards ensuring working Black women are supported and fairly compensated for their labor. True racial and gender equity means ensuring all workers, especially Black women, can access higher wages, paid family and medical leave, paid sick time, quality child care, and fair and flexible scheduling.
Now is the time to end the wage gap and empower Black women, especially those entering the workforce, to access more career opportunities, increase their wealth, support their families and wellbeing, and increase their overall prosperity.