The following post was originally published on Medium.
As Donald Trump and the anti-choice GOP remain obsessed with rolling back our reproductive rights every chance they get, we're reminded pretty much every single day of how much more work there is to do before women become equal partners in society. From Donald Trump's executive order reinstating the Global Gag rule his first week in office, to the 20 lawmakers in Ohio that sponsored a bill making abortion illegal and punishable by death just last month, our basic human rights are under constant attack.
"The wage gap is a stark reminder of all the ways our country throws women and families under the bus."
But on Equal Pay Day, it's hard to feel anything but downright frustration when thinking about just how much there is to do before women get their fair share. Today is Equal Pay Day 2018, marking the days that a woman would have to work in order to match what a white man earned in 2017. On average, women earn only 80 cents for every dollar that a man is paid for work — and that gap is even worse for women of color as racism and sexism compound their wage gap. While white women make 75 cents for every dollar a white man makes, Asian women earn 85 cents, black women earn 63 cents, native women earn 58 cents, and Latinas make 54 cents. Women of color would have to work between 20 and 23 months to make the same salary that white men make in one year. In a time where our basic human rights are threatened by anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant elected officials at every level, the wage gap is a stark reminder of all the ways our country throws women and families under the bus.
There's a lot of work this country must do to help women get their fair share. Equal pay is a fundamental part of helping women become equal partners in society, as are reproductive rights. Women and families know that their ability to get ahead is frequently out of reach without the ability to plan their own families and control their own futures. Women in the workforce need the ability to access essential healthcare — such as abortion and birth control — and be compensated equally to care for the families they already have and achieve their goals.
Unless women have the ability to control their own bodies and decide their own futures, it will be impossible for us to achieve true equality. Already, President Trump reversed the Affordable Care Act's birth control benefit, which ensured that millions of women could access affordable birth control. The birth control benefit was the single greatest advancement in reproductive healthcare in a generation. It gave women more control over their own lives and their own destinies. The ability to plan or delay having a child if she chooses can lead to a more stable income than that of her peers who were unable to delay a pregnancy until the time was right. This helps build stronger families that can be more resilient in times of economic downturn.
When President Trump and his administration undermine our rights and try to take away access to basic healthcare, or refuse to further legislation to close the wage gap, they're clearly saying that a woman's ability to plan and achieve the future she wants is not a priority. To millions of Americans, this isn't some abstract fight about social issues; these are the bread and butter issues that affect their ability to continue their education, rise up in their career, and plan for their future.
In 2018, NARAL will work to elect candidates who understand that gender equality is essential for families to thrive. We'll fight for candidates who will proudly, and loudly, advance the policies all women need to get ahead. We hope you'll join us.