For those of you who don’t get the Shawano Leader, here is the Shawano Dems’ op-ed.


Calling all women voters.  This election is crucial to your rights as women.

Women have been fighting to have equal rights for over a century.  The women’s rights movement began in Seneca, New York in 1848.  At this very first woman’s rights convention in the United States, women discussed their social, civil, and religious condition and lack of rights for women.  This event triggered the fight for women’s suffrage and the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote.

Up until this time women’s voices remained unheard of in a world where men’s voices dominated.  The leaders of the Seneca Falls Convention vowed to work toward a society where women’s voices would resound loudly and their rights would be equal to men’s. 

It took women 70 years of conventions, protest marches, arrests and hunger strikes, to finally convince the men in power that women should be able to express their opinion on who should be elected to government positions.  Today women continue that struggle to be equal and have their voices heard in issues including family, the workplace, immigration, reproductive rights and gender equality.

Nothing affects ​women and their families more than access to affordable healthcare coverage.  The cost of some life-saving prescription medications is ridiculously high. Living with a pre-existing condition can quickly send a family into bankruptcy. Nevertheless, President Trump and the Republicans are moving ahead with trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act that over one million Wisconsinites use to get health insurance.

Women have also been fighting to have equality in the workplace.  It took until 1993 with the Family and Medical Leave Act for employees to be able to take job-protected and unpaid leave from their jobs for qualified medical and family reasons.  Beginning this month government employees can get 12 weeks of paid time for the birth, adoption or foster of a new child.

Although these events are steps forward for working women, they are woefully inadequate especially in the era of COVID 19.  Other countries around the world offer much more help to women and their families.

The New Zealand government offers paid parental leave when you stop working to look after a child under 6.  You can receive at least the equivalent of 10 hours per week at minimum wage.

Canada allows 52 weeks of parental leave at 55% salary per week for the year.  Norway gives you 49 weeks parental leave with 100% salary.  In Germany you can get one year of paid leave at 67% salary.  By contrast, the United States with zero paid leave days has a long way to go.

Discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex continues to exist decades after the enactment of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.   Despite the enactment of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, many women continue to earn significantly lower pay than men for equal work. These pay disparities exist in both the private and governmental sectors. Pay disparities are especially severe for women and girls of color.

Because this act has not worked as Congress originally intended, improvements and modifications to the law are necessary.  In 2020 women are paid 81 cents for every dollar made by men for comparable work.  The gap is wider when examining pay data for black and Hispanic women, according to the research firm Pay Scale.

New to the gender pay gap report for 2020 is analysis on the impact of lost wages on lifetime earnings. Among the top 20 jobs with the highest gender pay gap ranged from $0.83 (Anesthesiologists) to $0.90 (Sales Representatives) showing that the gender pay gap is very real and larger for women in certain occupations.

Lilly Ledbetter worked for Goodyear and was denied a settlement for backpay when she found out she was being paid less than her male counterparts for the same job.  Because of President Obama’s signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Act employees now have the right to file suit 180 days after the last pay violation if they prove that they have been receiving less pay.

Women are less likely to negotiate pay and more likely to be penalized when they try.  They are also often pushed out of the highest-paying professions in the country, which reward workers who put in long hours—schedules that disproportionately hurt working mothers.  About a third of the pay gap, however, is the result of discrimination against women.  In March of 2019 the House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Fairness Act in a by-partisan vote.  The Republican controlled Senate has refused to even discuss this bill.

In her time on the court, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was fierce in her support for gender equality, access to abortion, rights for immigrants, and so much more.  Women need to thank her for the right to sign a mortgage without a man, the right to have a bank account and a credit card without a male co-signer, and the right to be pregnant or have kids and still be able to work.

Justice Ginsburg was a great leader. She always acknowledged the groundbreakers before her and stayed laser-focused on the future women who would follow her. Today, we are that future.

Let her memory be a revolution. Let’s vote to continue her fight.

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