Guest view: Help women get ahead with paycheck fairness

April 7, 2014 

I think it is important to give a voice to those who need our help. As a woman and a mother, I know the lack of equal pay for women is a critical issue in our community and for our nation's economy.

This year in Illinois, women make 78 cents for each dollar a man makes for the same job. Women of color are being paid even less --African- American women make 65 cents per male dollar and Hispanic women earn only 48 cents per male dollar.

This wage gap doesn't just impact women. It hurts families and our entire economy. Many households across our state rely on women's salaries as all or part of the family income. Paying women less for the same jobs their male co- workers are doing hurts families' ability to put food on the table, save for retirement, pay for health care or buy a house.

Today has been named Equal Pay Day because it signifies the day a wo-man's wages would catch up to her male counterparts from last year. That is not an exaggeration -- women have to work nearly 100 days more to earn the same wage. This is simply unacceptable and the lack of progress on this issue in Washington baffles me.

To start, Congress must pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure women are paid equally to their male colleagues for the same work. It's also time to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Here in Illinois we know that six in 10 minimum wage earners are women, many of whom are head of household. And raising our minimum wage would give more than 630,000 women a raise in our state.

I think it is important to know the voting record of your representative and the specific policy differences between the candidates. I believe the Paycheck Fairness legislation is good policy that gives women and families a fair chance to get ahead, not just get by.

Ann Callis is the Democratic nominee for Congress in Illinois' 13th District.

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