Today is Equal Pay Day in the United States. As far as I can tell there is little press about it in Canada. Despite our laws promoting Equal pay for equal work there is still a wage gap between men and women. According to the Fair Pay Campaign run by the National Women's Law Center:
April 28, Equal Pay Day, marks the day in 2009 when the average woman’s wages will finally catch up with those paid to the average man in 2008. The day serves as an important reminder of the persistent wage gap and the urgent need to take action to ensure that women can receive equal pay for equal work
If you live in the U.S. please visit the National Women's Law Center's page for advice on how to take action. For a Canadian perspective on the wage gap you can visit this site.
We are not there yet. As a stay-at-home mom I feel that this issue still applies to me. Whether you stay at home or not our homemaking, mothering and general day-to-day work is not valued by the almighty dollar in this culture. If you had to pay someone to do all the unpaid work you do it would add up to thousands of dollars: a cook, a cleaner, a nanny, an accountant, a gardener, a shopper, a driver, a counselor...the list can go on and on. Even in some Scandinavian countries where the gender gap is smaller this situation still prevails:
Women perform between 65 and 70 per cent of the unpaid work, even if they are in full-time gainful employment. Marriage or cohabitation immediately increases the amount of housework for women, whereas it does not make much difference for men. There is a clear generational distinction in the caring patterns, as men of younger generation share more responsibility for housework (quote source)
My message here is not one of doom and gloom. We need to face this situation together as men and women, as partners, as friends. Our society has been designed to suit men. We need to change that. The pace, style and goals of our culture are not in sync with the needs of women, children or men. We need more time to spend with our husbands, fathers, friends etc. And we need the work, the hours and hours of unpaid work that women do without even thinking about it sometimes to be accounted for in our culture. And for those of you who work outside the home and make on average about 78 cents to a man's dollar... let's keep on working until that is no longer the case. This is an unacceptable ratio and our generation can change this.