Op-Ed

Pay women equally, and we will cut poverty in half in Miami-Dade

TNS

More than 20 percent of women in Miami-Dade County live in poverty. That’s more than a quarter million women. Many of them are single, working mothers, struggling to put food on the table for their families.

That’s not acceptable.

You know these women: the janitor in your office building; the aide who takes care of your father-in-law; the mother working with you on a PTA project. One in five women — a huge number — is struggling to make ends meet. If women were paid equally, we could cut that number in half.

For almost 25 years, we at The Women’s Fund have made it our mission to improve the quality of life for women and girls in Miami-Dade County. We’ve granted over $3.6 million to help more than 450 nonprofit organizations serve thousands of women and girls. We’ve led the collaborative effort to stop sex trafficking in our community. Last year, we canvassed and called and reached out to encourage women to vote in their own self-interest.

We know how to bring people together to work on the issues that women and girls face. Now, we’re focusing our energy where we can make real systemic change to help women gain the economic security that underpins so many other issues.

We’re launching a major initiative to cut the number of women in poverty in half. And you can help.

We’ve known for years that women are paid less than men doing the same work. Women talk about it all the time. Nationally, women earn 78 cents for every dollar a man earns, and at the current pace there won’t be equal pay in Florida for more than two decades. It’s even worse for Hispanic and African-American women. We’ve failed to focus on the women who really need this to change now, women who are struggling to put food on the table.

On July 17, The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade is launching a multi-year collaborative campaign to educate our community about the importance of equal pay — in order to create real impactful change. We’ll share the statistics and the stories to make people aware of the difference equal pay can make in the lives of mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters. We will ask employers to step up and commit to pay equally. We will give employees the tools to make their case. We will help companies that want to get to fair and equal pay put plans in place and get started.

And we will publicly celebrate companies that make the commitment to equal pay for equal work.

You may think that equal pay is already the law. But the laws in place don’t call companies to account until someone risks their job by complaining. You may think that paying employees equally will hurt Miami-Dade’s businesses. But paying fairly can help companies attract and retain quality employees and customers who prefer to buy from those who treat employees fairly. You may think that your company is too small to really make a difference, but every company counts, just as every woman counts.

We’re identifying partners in county and municipal governments, in the nonprofit community, and in the private sector. It will take all of our efforts to make this powerful change a reality. If you’re ready to help make it happen, visit www.equalpaymiamidade.org. You can learn more, and help us cut women’s poverty in half in Miami-Dade County.

Janet Kyle Altman is board chair for The Women’s Fund, and a principal with Kaufman Rossin.

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