Just six years short of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment — securing women the fundamental right to vote — President Barack Obama declared Aug. 26 as Women’s Equality Day.
Amid ongoing nationwide efforts to promote fairness among both genders, Obama cautioned the country that more initiatives need to be implemented to ensure fairness for women. In a statement released on Monday, Obama realized the need to continue supporting women’s achievements in business, education and the armed forces.
But, the president warned, “despite these gains, the dreams of too many mothers and daughters continue to be deferred and denied … There is still more work to do and more doors of opportunity to open.”
The battle for equal pay continues to be a dividing issue in states around the country, as Democrats try to raise state minimum wages, enhance sick leave for women, and increase access to affordable childcare. Republicans blame their counterparts, though, for using equal pay measures as a distraction ahead of an election year.
Senate Republicans in April rejected the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have held employees responsible for wage discrimination against women and would have required the U.S. Department of Labor to collect wage data from supervisors. Nationwide, women made 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man in 2012, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
Shortly after he took office in 2009, Obama first demonstrated his desire to uphold gender equality when he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, which provides women basic protections against pay discrimination. His administration has continued to ensure that federal agencies recognize the needs of women and girls when implementing programs and policies. The president also reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act and established a White House task force to protect students from sexual assault.
Obama recently spoke in favor of progressive family policies during the first-ever White House Summit on Working Families in June. He hasn’t, however, formally supported the national paid family leave that was introduced in Congress.