Declaring Equality: Equal Pay for Equal Work

About this series: this series of blogs identifies some of the key objectives set forth by the NWP’s 1922 Declaration of Principles, outlines efforts made by the NWP and like-minded groups to make these goals a reality, and provides updates on the current status of these feminist fights.


PRINCIPLE: THAT women shall no longer receive less pay than men for the same work, but shall receive equal compensation for equal work in public and private employment.


Then:

            Alice Paul and the rest of the NWP considered fair pay for women to be a crucial aspect of gender equality. NWP members pushed for a constitutional amendment prohibiting sex discrimination, which would, in their view, ensure that female workers were fairly compensated. The NWP’s Legal Research Department also had a hand in drafting multiple state bills establishing a right to equal pay for equal work.

The NWP’s conviction that the ERA was the best way to ensure the rights of working women caused conflict with some progressive labor groups that had worked to pass laws ensuring special protections for female workers like a higher minimum wage, a shorter work week, and more stringent safety regulations. ERA proponents argued that protective legislation unfairly limited women’s ability to work, but labor advocates held that it protected women from exploitation and discrimination. Eventually, most of these protective laws were repealed, replaced, or extended to apply to men as well as women, but the NWP’s vision of an equal rights amendment that would ensure equal pay and treatment for working women still goes unrealized.

Now:

Declaring Equality - Equal Pay for Equal Work.jpg

The gender pay gap persists despite the adoption of federal laws which give women grounds for filing pay discrimination lawsuits, such as the 1963 Equal Pay Act and the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. According to research by the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor, American women today make an average of 79 cents for every dollar made by an American man. The wage gap is even more yawning for women of color: black women make 63 cents for every dollar made by white men, and Hispanic or Latina women make only 54 cents.

Pay inequity remains a hot-button issue for feminist groups. To combat the gender pay gap, some women’s rights organizations are pushing for measures like greater pay transparency from companies, a higher minimum wage, state-sponsored child-care, and paid parental leave. And like Alice Paul and her NWP cohort, many activists today believe that an equal rights amendment is needed to guarantee women equal pay for equal work.

Full text of the Declaration of Principles:

WHEREAS, Women today, although enfranchised, are still in every way subordinate to men before the law, in government, in educational opportunities, in the professions, in the church, in industry, and in the home.

BE IT RESOLVED, That as a part of our campaign to remove all forms of the subjection of women, we shall work for the following immediate objects:

THAT women shall no longer be regarded and shall no longer regard themselves as inferior to men, but the equality of the sexes shall be recognized.

THAT women shall no longer be the governed half of society, but shall participate equally with men in the direction of life.

Declaring Equality - Then and Now.png

THAT women shall no longer be denied equal educational opportunities with men, but the same opportunities shall be given to both sexes in all schools, colleges and universities which are supported in any way by public funds.

THAT women shall no longer be barred from any occupation, but every occupation open to men shall be open to women, and restrictions upon the hours, conditions, and remuneration of labor shall apply alike to both sexes.

THAT women shall no longer be discriminated against in the legal, the medical, the teaching, or any other profession, but the same opportunities shall be given to women as to men in training for professions and in the practice of these professions.

THAT women shall no longer be discriminated against in civil and government service, but shall have the same right as men to authority, appointment, advancement and pay in the executive, the legislative, and the judicial branches of the government service.

THAT women shall no longer be discriminated against in the foreign trade, consular and diplomatic service, but women as well as men shall represent our country in foreign lands.

THAT women shall no longer receive less pay than men for the same work, but shall receive equal compensation for equal work in public and private employment.

THAT women shall no longer be barred from the priesthood or ministry, or any position of authority in the church, but equally with men shall participate in ecclesiastical offices and dignities.

THAT a double moral standard shall no longer exist, but one code shall obtain for both men and women.

THAT exploitation of the sex of women shall no longer exist, but women shall have the same right to the control of their persons as have men.

THAT women shall no longer be discriminated against in treatment of sex diseases and in punishment of sex offenses, but men and women shall be treated in the same way for sex diseases and sex offenses.

THAT women shall no longer be deprived of the right of trial by a jury of their peers, but jury service shall be open to women as to men.

THAT women shall no longer be discriminated against in inheritance laws, but men and women shall have the same right to inherit property.

THAT the identity of the wife shall no longer be merged in that of her husband, but the wife shall retain her separate identity after marriage and be able to contract with her husband concerning the marriage relationship.

THAT a woman shall no longer be required by law or custom to assume the name of her husband upon marriage, but shall have the same right as a man to retain her own name after marriage.

THAT the wife shall no longer be considered as supported by the husband, but their mutual contribution to the family maintenance shall be recognized.

THAT the headship of the family shall no longer be in the husband alone, but shall be equally in the husband and wife.

THAT the husband shall no longer own his wife's services, but these shall belong to her alone as in the case of any free person.

THAT the husband shall no longer own his wife's earnings, but these shall belong to her alone.

THAT the husband shall no longer own or control his wife's property, but it shall belong to her and be controlled by her alone.

THAT the husband shall no longer control the joint property of his wife and himself, but the husband and wife shall have equal control of their joint property.

THAT the husband shall no longer obtain divorce more easily than the wife, but the wife shall have the right to obtain divorce on the same grounds as the husband.

THAT the husband shall no longer have a greater right to make contracts than the wife, but a wife shall have equal right with her husband to make contracts.

THAT married women shall no longer be denied the right to choose their own citizenship, but shall have the same independent choice of citizenship as is possessed by their husbands.

THAT women shall no longer be discriminated against in the economic world because of marriage, but shall have the same treatment in the economic world after marriage as have men.

THAT the father shall no longer have the paramount right to the care, custody, and control of the child, to determine its education and religion, to the guardianship of its estate, and to the control of its services and earnings, but these rights shall be shared equally by the father and mother in the case of all children, whether born within or without the marriage ceremony.

THAT no form of the Common Law or Civil Law disabilities of women shall longer exist, but women shall be equal with men before the law.

IN SHORT—THAT WOMAN SHALL NO LONGER BE IN ANY FORM OF SUBJECTION TO MAN IN LAW OR IN CUSTOM, BUT SHALL IN EVERY WAY BE ON AN EQUAL PLANE IN RIGHTS, AS SHE HAS ALWAYS BEEN AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE, IN RESPONSIBILITIES AND OBLIGATIONS.

 

ERAUna Corbett