WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, on Black Women’s Equal Pay Day 2020, NOW reaffirms our commitment to economic justice and racial equity, two of our core issues. Pay equity has been a central demand of feminists for years, but we must also recognize that structural sexism and racism in this nation is inextricable from economic oppression.
In 2019, Black women were paid 62% of what white, non-Hispanic men were paid on average and in 2018, they were paid 89% of what Black men were paid. For a Black woman working full-time year-round, these lost wages amount to an average of $23,540 each year. More than 80% of Black mothers are key breadwinners for their families and almost 4 million family households in the U.S. are headed by Black women. Additionally, a quarter of those households live below the poverty level, even as the women work, but are trapped by the wage gap.
The gender and race wage gap prevents Black women from being able to invest in their families and their futures. Those lost wages could give them the ability to afford childcare, pay college tuition for themselves or their children, pay premiums on employer-based health insurance, or save money for emergencies. It would allow them to pay off student loan debt more quickly, given that Black women have the highest student loan debt of any racial or ethnic group.
Without equal pay, Black women and their families are systemically being denied the ability to invest in their futures, as well as access to positions of power and higher education. NOW is a long-time supporter of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would strengthen protections regarding wage discrimination and close loopholes found in the 1963 Equal Pay Act. This Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, we call on the Senate to pass this critical piece of legislation and bring us one step closer to economic justice.