Eight cents. That’s how much the pay gap has shrunk in 25 years. If this isn’t grounds for outrage, then I don’t know what is. Eight measly cents — that’s not even enough to buy me an empanada in Colombia.
Though the topic of wage imbalance is not a new one, it is necessary to remind everyone of the amount of work ahead of us. Luckily, there are many groups and organizations, such as The United State of Women (USOW), that has been working non-stop in closing the gap that messes with the livelihoods of many.
The United State of Women is a national organization that fights for full gender equity.
“We are a community for all women, gender nonconforming people, and allies who believe in full gender equity and want to work collectively to achieve it,” USOW’s website states.
The great thing about USOW is that their fight isn’t reserved for the usually targeted months when wage inequality is trending. Instead, they are vocal all year round. In fact, they currently have a campaign named, Every Issue is a Gender Issue, that is trying to educate as many people as possible.
In order to learn more about this organization’s consistent advocacy and the campaign, BELatina News spoke to Jordan Brooks, the executive director of United State of Women, a few days ago.
This is what she had to say:
First off, tell us a bit about yourself
Jordan Brooks: I spent the last four years building the United State of Women into a space where we could have a great community of women and people around the country who want to make sure we are talking about the fact that every issue is a gender issue. I also spent the previous eight years before being at the United State of Women in the Obama administration. In the last couple of years, I was the deputy executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls. We ultimately created the United State of Women out of that.
That’s good to hear! And now, have you seen any progress in people’s mentality about gender equality/equity since the launch of the United State of Women?
JB: I think we are definitely seeing progress. Even today, we see continued investments from the Biden administration come out, such as ending violence against women. We’re also seeing a continued understanding of the fact that the care infrastructure is so important, especially on the back end of this pandemic. So, we’re continuing to see progress as we move forward.
It’s great to know that you and those at USOW have been so committed to tackling such an important topic. However, would you please tell us what inspired USOW to create the campaign, Every Issue is a Gender Issue?
JB: The campaign Every issue is a Gender Issue for us is really going to be the way that we frame the United States of women’s work going forward. So, on the back end of this pandemic, we can build in the United States, a country that really supports women and girls, particularly women and girls of color, in the hopes that we can make sure that they have everything they need to be able to thrive. And when something like this happens again, which God forbid it doesn’t, but it may, the backs of American women aren’t broken in the same way that they were this time. We want to make sure that there are supports in place, opportunities in place for all women and girls across this country to be able to build their own economic future. And we’re really excited about that.
This is all wonderful. Such admirable work! And, how long will this campaign run?
JB: We’re really thinking about Every Issue is a Gender Issue as a long-term campaign. At the United States of Women, we are really thinking about it in terms of how we’re going to frame all of our work. Especially, since everything from transportation safety to immigration reform to minimum wage is on our radar.
What are some of the focuses of the campaign that you feel are really significant to marginalized communities?
JB: We really need to be thinking about all of the federal policy level and state policy level work that we’re advocating on to really make sure that it has a race and gender lens on it. Everyone needs to start thinking about how these policies are really affecting women and girls differently and gender nonconforming people differently and how we need to make sure we are putting supports and policies in place across the spectrum of issues to ensure that everyone thrives. On top of that. I think what really needs to come to light is that the structural inequities have been there forever in this country, particularly for women of color. There have been structural barriers that have existed forever, whether that’s on caregiving, on paid leave, or on health care. All of these things have been inequities for as long as our country has existed. And the pandemic has just brought them to light and exacerbated them.
Do you believe the pandemic further exemplified the issues revolving around gender disparity?
JB: Yes, and particularly for women. Four million women have had to step back from the workforce this year. That’s not including women that have also lost their jobs. I think in December, all of the job losses collectively were from women. So, we’re continuing to just see the exacerbated burdens placed on women from this pandemic.
How can the everyday person work towards promoting gender equity?
JB: Every person, every day can come to the realization of the many ways that everything experienced in life is affected by your gender. Because of that, there are a lot of things people can do to fight against inequalities. For example, people can call their members of Congress and make sure that they are passing legislation that helps ensure equality such as caregiving support, fair wage, and really rooting some of those things in a gender equity frame and talking about the fact that women and girls have been disproportionately affected during this pandemic. This is an important first step. People can also go to our website and take action on a whole host of issues, whether that is on helping pass the last covid relief package. But continuing to push Congress is so important. Right now, they can help out to make sure that they are pushing the new American Jobs Plan, which will also include caregiving packages for people. Another thing on the table is the Violence Against Women Act, which has been sort of languishing in Congress but would really support women across this country who are suffering from domestic violence and sexual assault. Ultimately, is thinking about how all of these different issues affect women and girls in their everyday life. Going online and reading about them and then coming to our site and working with our partners and us to take some of that concrete action.
Do you have any advice or anything else you’d like to add?
If someone doesn’t feel comfortable calling Congress, they can do other things to help. For example, a local domestic violence shelter may need help with its website. So, if you’re a Web person, maybe you can help them do that. It’s about thinking about how you can utilize your own skills to help advance gender equity. There really are so many different ways to do this and they are all important.