Poverty has a Woman’s Face

18 Feb
Womens Economic Security

When will the gender gap be over?

According to the summary of a report by the Center on Women and Public Policy and the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota says that “at the current rate, the pay gap in Minnesota will not be closed until 2060.”  That’s right.  Men will still make more than women for the same job and the same work 140 years after Womens Suffrage, almost 90 years after a human landed on the moon, and about the same time Hailey’s Comet returns in its next 76-year-orbit.

As women succeed, the state succeeds.   How to accomplish that is spurred by the Womens Security Act-a legislative package of 17 ideas that are being championed by Rep. Paul Thissen.  The Speaker of the Minnesota House outlined the proposals at the 2014 Womens Economic Security Summit.  Some of these ideas affect the prosperity of all Minnesotans but through lapses in public policy they affect women more-the minimum wage is the most visible.  As women predominantly hold service and caregiver occupations, including nursing, they are held down as a whole when wages and salaries don’t keep up.

From a purely economic perspective, the dimunuitive female economy makes the state economy smaller as well.  As a recent Time magazine report said, the more money women make, the more money they manage-their own and their household’s.  That affects spending exponentially as well as 58 cents of every online dollar is spent by a woman.  80 cents of every healthcare dollar is spent by a woman.  Even 44 cents of every dollar spent on National League Football games and gear is spent by a woman.

It’s not just an issue of equality or justice.  It’s an issue of prosperity and growth.  Thissen and the House majority have made this package of policies a priority.  Minnesota should too.

A Summary:

Closing the gender pay gap through requiring vendors with the state to report on pay equity.

Increasing income for working women and families by raising the minimum wage to $9.50.

Expanding access to high-quality, affordable childcare by removing the cap on early learning scholarships and increasing child care provider reimbursement.

Expanding family and sick leave for working families by increasing unpaid family leave from 6 to 12 weeks.

Protecting women from discrimination in the workplace by preventing discrimination towards women with c

hildren or who are pregnant.

Enhancing protections for victims of domestic violence by including women who are victims of stalking and sexual assault for insurance eligibility.

Helping women-owned small business succeed.

Helping older women be economically secure.

Encouraging women in non-traditional, high-wage jobs.

Just by the numbers, women make up half of Minnesota’s workforce, but they are two-thirds of all minimum-wage earners and 58 percent of those who make less than $9.50.  If half of Minnesotans are being kept from earning more, the state is depriving itself of the wealth and success it needs and deserves.

The full platform is here:  http://mnwomen.org/dev/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/2013-MWC-Legislative-Platform.pdf

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