On April 4 it'll be Equal Pay Day, an annual event that raises awareness of the fact that women in America still aren't paid fairly as compared to men's earnings. It's a day when people all over the country can take a moment to recognize longstanding inequities, rooted in sexism and discrimination, and work to create a world that's more fair and equal. And that's a cause that you can be a part of too: in particular, there are several small but important ways to support Equal Pay Day, and do your part to make the world around you just a little bit better.
Make no mistake, the wage gap is real, despite longstanding attempts by some conservative critics to argue otherwise. It's true that the oft-cited claim that women earn just 77 percent of what men do doesn't account for other factors — like education or choice of profession — there's no denying that a gap unexplained by those factors does exist.
It's also true that the jobs women work, and the roles they assume in society, are not isolated from institutional sexism. To the contrary: Women being penalized for having children, or being asked or assumed to fulfill family caretaker roles free of charge, is itself a part of the equal pay conversation.
In short, there are a lot of angles to come at the problem from, and that means there are a lot of options for you to help make a difference, however small. Here are 11 possibilities you might want to consider.
1. Support Women-Owned Businesses
If you live in a community with any local businesses that are independently owned and/or founded by women, and especially if they're staffed by women, Equal Pay Day is a good time to use your buying power at those shops. It may not move the needle in terms of combating systemic sexism or inequality, but it will send a message of awareness and consideration on an important day.
2. Join An Equal Pay Protest
If you've got the day free ― once again, it's Tuesday, April 4 ― you should consider joining an Equal Pay Day protest near you. If you're wondering how to do that, you can find information through social media sites like Facebook in particular.
3. Call Your Member Of Congress
If anything was proven by the failure of the GOP's Obamacare replacement effort (popularly known as the American Health Care Act), it's that public pressure on members of Congress works. So if you want to send a message to the halls of power in Washington, make sure you take a moment to call the state or district offices of your elected representatives and demand they come out in loud public support of equal pay. You can find the House of Representatives phone directory here, and one for the U.S. Senate here. Just remember: be polite, but very firm and very clear.
4. Mark The Date Of Your Next Congressional Town Hall
Similarly, if you're hoping to get some face time with your member of Congress (another strategy that proved to be potent during the health care battle), check to see when their next district town hall is. And if there aren't any planned, it's time to start calling and demand that they schedule one. There's an upcoming congressional recess from April 10 through April 21, a ripe time for town halls, so make sure you check this out soon.
5. Talk To Your Loved Ones About Equal Pay
It's important to have open dialogue with the people closest to you about the causes that matter, because nobody should have to go it alone. On top of that, it's exhausting to feel misunderstood or unsupported by the people closest to you. So if there's someone close to you who doesn't know that you have an interest in politics, or you sense hasn't thought deeply about equal pay issues, make some time to have a conversation with them, and urge them to take a few minutes to do their part, too.
6. Talk To Someone With Problematic Views, Too
I know, I know, who wants to do this, right? Obviously, exercise your own best judgment ― if you know somebody who's super-hostile to women's rights or feminist issues, there's no guarantee that it'll help to talk to them. But if you've encountered someone who seems like they have a good heart but has internalized some problematic attitudes, or maybe someone who's fallen for some of the fallacious arguments about why the pay gap doesn't exist or doesn't matter, you might do some good by having a respectful, serious-minded conversation.
7. Tell The White House To Keep Race & Sex-Specific Wage Reporting
If you're looking for an Obama-era policy to push the White House to keep in place, you should consider the requirement that companies report employee earnings broken down by gender and race. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is currently lobbying the administration to undo this requirement, which would make it harder to quantify discrepancies in the earnings of men and women (or even white women and women of color).
8. Support Equal Pay While Giving Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Workout A Try
If you're a fan of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, physical fitness, and you believe women deserve equal pay, here's the event for you: a series of Equal Pay Day speeches, followed by a communal attempt at handling RBG's notoriously grueling workout regimen. This one is happening in the Chicago area, sadly, so it's not accessible to everyone. But if you're heading to a protest early in the day, you can always try out the workout later on your own time.
9. Support Paid Time Off For Pregnancy & Paternity
One of the things that results in women bringing in less money than men is work interruptions due to pregnancy and subsequent maternity leave. So, if you're looking to champion a particular cause, whether in protest or in direct engagement with your elected officials, legally mandating paid time off for pregnancy and for paternity leave is a great step. And remember, that's paternity leave, not just maternity leave ― letting fathers choose to stay home with their young children benefits women and strikes against patriarchy, too.
10. Let Ivanka Trump Know You Haven't Forgotten Her Promises
One of President Trump's most effective surrogates during the 2016 campaign was his own daughter Ivanka, who gave a speech at the Republican National Convention calling, in part, for equal pay. So now, with her father in the White House and her moving in as well, it's a good time to call, email, and do whatever you can to communicate a loud message: that you haven't forgotten, and that her credibility and reputation is on the line, too.
11. Get Friends To Join You In Whatever You Do
Remember, none of these goals can be reached alone. Whether you're headed to a protest, calling up members of Congress, or trying to make an impact with where you spend your money, spread the word. And if you're trying to make an impression on your elected representatives, the more people the better. Plus, it's more fun to have sympathetic friends along for the ride, right?