What Black Women’s Equal Pay Day Means NOW

Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is one of those yearly observances we don’t celebrate as a holiday—it’s more of a reminder, a marker, a warning.

On this day, we calculate the extent of the disgraceful pay inequity that Black women face in the U.S.  This date symbolizes how far into the year Black women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.

Black women face many barriers to achieving pay equity, including pay discrimination, occupational segregation, racial and gender-based disparities in salaries, retirement savings, student loan debt, and other factors limiting the ability to build wealth.

Black women typically earn only 66 cents on the dollar to what white, non-Hispanic men make, according to this new fact sheet from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).

“Progress has slowed markedly during the last 20 years compared to a longer time horizon,” writes the IWPR.

“Based on trends during the last two decades, it will take over 200 years—until 2227—for Black women’s pay to equal White men’s for full-time year-round workers, and until 2362 to reach pay equity for all with earnings. These shocking projections point to the low job quality and poor advancement prospects faced by many Black women, who are more likely to be in the labor market and, when they are, less likely to work part-time than other women.”

NOW supports policy solutions such as the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will help ensure that workers are paid the same amount for the same work.

Among other provisions, the Act would prohibit employers from using salary history, which can set women on a path of being underpaid through the rest their career; protect employees from being fired or punished for discussing salaries with co-workers and bar employers from firing workers for sharing salary information; require employers to prove any pay disparities are a “business necessity” or “job-related;” and update class action lawsuit provisions to make it easier to combat systemic sex-based wage discrimination.

Here’s more from the IWPR on policy solutions, and a brief from the Urban Institute on “Pathways to Upward Economic Mobility and Wealth Building for Black Women– Six Policy Areas and Recommendations for Federal Policy Action

“Black women have made significant contributions to the US economy through unpaid and paid labor for centuries,” they write.

“Despite their many economic contributions, Black women have faced racism, discrimination, and exclusionary policies and practices that have limited their ability to reap the full benefits of economic opportunity, including wealth accumulation and the transfer of intergenerational wealth.”

On this Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, we recommit ourselves to reversing the disparities and systemic discrimination that hold us back, and perpetuate a racist system.

Contact: Press Team, press@now.org,