Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pay equity & CEDAW: How long must women wait?

FMF's Get Out Her Vote campaign encourages young feminists to vote around the issues we care about on Election Day, which is Tuesday, November 2nd. There are a number of reasons why it's important to vote in the mid-term elections, but I wanted to focus on two particularly timely issues: the gender wage gap and ratification of the UN CEDAW treaty.

Gender wage gap

Even though we have anti-discrimination laws, the gender wage gap begins immediately as young women enter the workforce and graduate from college, and it only widens over the course of their career. During her lifetime, a college-educated women will earn $1.2 million less than her male classmate will, just because she is a women. You know the stats.

So what can your feminist group do?
  • Learn more. Read about the Paycheck Fairness Act currently before the US Senate, and get the latest wage gap data [PDF] from our friends at the Institute for Women's Policy Research. Discuss the wage gap at group meetings, and how you can take political action on this issue.
  • Hold a pay equity bake sale on campus to illustrate the effects of the wage gap and raise some dough (ha!) for your feminist group.
  • Work with your campus career center and progressive groups on campus to organize workshops on resumes, interviewing, salary negotiation, and feminist careers. A great off-campus resource is the WAGE Project, which conducts workshops specifically for college women. The WAGE workshop I attended as a student was excellent.
Moving right along to...

Ratification of CEDAW

The US is one of the last countries that has not signed the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (full text) human rights treaty. This treaty would serve as a full commitment to women's equality under the law, which we still do not have in this country (see also: Equal Rights Amendment).

Ratifying countries commit to:

● Take concrete measures to ensure women can enjoy basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.
● Establish judicial procedures to ensure the effective protection of the rights of women.
● Take appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.
● Submit national reports every four years on measures they have taken to comply with the treaty to protect and promote the rights of women in their country.

The Obama administration and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton support ratification. A vote of two-thirds of the US Senate (67 votes) is required for ratification, and no action is required by the House of Representatives.

What your group can do:
  • FMF is part of a broad coalition working toward CEDAW ratification in the US. Learn more at http://www.cedaw2010.org/
  • Host a film screening and discussion of FMF's short DVD "CEDAW: The Secret Treaty." Email us at campusteam (at) feminist (dot) org to get your free copy, and use this CEDAW handout to facilitate the conversation.
  • Ask your women's studies and international relations professors to cover CEDAW in class.
Got more ideas for spreading the word on pay equity and CEDAW? Leave a comment or email us!

And remember, vote on Election Day Tuesday, November 2nd!

This was post was featured in the September 2010 campus eZine. To join our mailing list, sign up here.

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