Congresswoman Martha McSally

Representing the 2nd District of Arizona

Arizona Daily Star: Leaning in to empower women

August 31, 2016

By U.S. Representative Martha McSally

Each year, Aug. 26 is observed as “Women’s Equality Day,” recognizing when women earned the right to vote with the enactment of the 19th Amendment. This turning point for women was possible thanks to the perseverance of generations of women fighting for a country that afforded equal rights to all citizens, regardless of sex.

Today, we’ve made great strides toward full equality. But the fact remains that so many women and girls still face barriers to achieving their full potential.

Since 1963, it’s been illegal to pay a woman less than a man for the same job, but the latest Labor Department statistics show that, when comparing median salaries for all jobs, women make only 81 cents on the dollar compared to men. Multiplied over a full career, a woman earns approximately $430,000 less than a man throughout her lifetime. This affects how much she is able to save or pay into Social Security, making women much more likely to live in poverty as they get older. The National Institute on Retirement Security reports that women are 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older, a figure that increases with age.

There are many factors responsible for this gap, including entering lower paying career fields, leaving the workforce to care for children or parents, challenges with child care, and discrimination. And its damaging effects don’t just harm women, but their families, communities and retirement security.

Four out of 10 women are the sole income earners for their families, and when they earn less, there’s less to spend on things like groceries, school supplies, and health care for children or dependent parents. Studies show that in Arizona, where over 500,000 women live in poverty, only 1 in 5 of the most common jobs worked by women provide economic self-sufficiency.

To read the full op-ed, click HERE.