WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden signed a proclamation marking National Equal Pay Day and hosted members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team at the White House on Wednesday as part of his push to secure better pay for American women, who earn 82 cents on average for every dollar earned by men.
Wednesday is Equal Pay Day, which marks how much longer into a new year U.S. women on average must work to earn what the average man earned the previous year.
The pay gap is far greater when calculated for Black women, who earn 63 cents on the dollar, and Latina women, who earn just 55 cents.
“The pay gap is real. It undermines financial security for women and families. It hurts our entire economy,” Biden said. “The American Rescue Plan was designed to address this core challenge. It puts money into the pockets of the people who need it the most.”
The soccer squad led by Megan Rapinoe, which won the Women’s World Cup for a second consecutive time in 2019, has sued U.S. Soccer, alleging gender discrimination. Fans backed them up, shouting “equal pay” during the World Cup final match.
Rapinoe and Margaret Purce represented the team at the White House and other players joined the event virtually.
“This is personal to me because it’s personal to all women, Dr. Jill Biden said Wednesday. “As the pandemic widens the income wealth gap between men and women it urgent. This issue is so much bigger than a number on a paycheck.”
The coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout has exacerbated disparities, triggering what Vice President Kamala Harris has called a “national emergency” for women.
Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package includes provisions aimed at getting the 2 million women who left the labor force during the COVID-19 pandemic back to work. His next legislative push, valued at some $3 trillion, will also expand child care infrastructure and create jobs, administration officials say.
Heather Boushey, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told MSNBC the new package would focus on “making sure that women have what they need to succeed in the workplace,” but gave no specific details.
Rapinoe told the House Committee on Oversight and Reform the World Cup winners had exceeded the accomplishments of their male counterparts but received inadequate compensation and playing conditions.
“They are heroines because they champion this issue for all women,” said Jennifer Klein, co-chair of the newly established White House Gender Policy Council. “This is really true in literally every country in the world – women are paid less.”
The team reached a settlement in December with U.S. Soccer on certain working conditions, including team travel and accommodations, but is still fighting in the courts to achieve equal pay to the men’s soccer team.