Wage gap compounds COVID-19 burden on Black women

Wage gap compounds coronavirus burden on Black women

Statement on Equal Pay Day by In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s
Reproductive Justice Agenda Founder and President Marcela Howell

WASHINGTON — Today is Equal Pay Day, a day that spotlights how far into the year – three months – a woman must work in order to earn the same pay a white man earned the previous year. In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda Founder and President Marcela Howell issued the following statement on the eve of Women’s Equal Pay Day:

“Equal Pay Day looks at the gender gap in pay between men and women. But only using gender as the measuring scale belies the lived experiences of Black women. The intersection of sexism and racism hurts Black women in many ways, including our paychecks. While the average white woman may make $.70 cents for every dollar a white man makes, Black women earn only $.62 cents for every dollar a white man makes doing the same job. This means that Black women’s Equal Pay Day is really eight months later – August 13, 2020.

That pay disparity is further compounded by the fact that Black women and other women of color are also heavily impacted by the growing COVID-19 crisis.

“Black women’s disproportionate employment in low-wage service and minimum or sub-minimum wage jobs, most of which lack benefits like paid sick leave, contributes to the disproportionate harm caused by the virus. Even as Congress passes bills to address the needs of workers during this crisis, the programs may not relieve the problems faced by low-wage workers., many of whom are being laid off.

“Many who are not laid off continue to work at great personal risk. Low-wage service workers — largely women of color — are the unsung heroes of the pandemic, as they risk their own health to staff grocery stores, takeout restaurants and other essential positions that put them at increased risk of exposure.

“We know that Black women and families, even during normal times, suffer from inadequate access to affordable, quality health care, food security challenges and unsafe housing issues at a disproportionately higher rate. With the pandemic, the public programs and support services Black women and families normally rely on may be harder to access.

“As we strive to ‘flatten the curve’ of the coronavirus crisis, it is critical that we also address workplace discrimination and work to close the pay gap.”


In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda is a national Reproductive Justice organization focused on lifting up the voices of Black women at the national and regional levels in our ongoing policy fight to secure Reproductive Justice for all women and girls. In Our Own Voice focuses on abortion rights and access, contraceptive equity, and comprehensive sex education as key policy issues. As a Reproductive Justice organization, we approach these issues from a human rights perspective, incorporating the intersections of race, gender, class, sexual orientation and gender identity with the situational impacts of economics, politics and culture that make up the lived experiences of Black women in America.

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