Tag Archives: gender inequality

Congress Votes Down Paycheck Fairness Act

By Ashley Morris

On Wednesday, the Paycheck Fairness Act was voted down. What exactly does this mean for the future of women’s wages? American women continue to earn less than men, and the Paycheck Fairness Act would have addressed the loopholes employers have used to keep women from earning less.

Hillary Clinton, then a senator representing New York, introduced the 2009 Pay Check Fairness Act to strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963. In our April blog post, April 20 Is Equal Pay Day, we discussed the importance of a bill like this becoming law.

Fifty-eight voters approved the bill and 41 were against it.  It would have taken just two additional senators’ votes to pass the bill. But despite the bill’s failure by such a small margin, the fight for equal pay is far from over. The bill can be reinstated, but will have to go through both chambers of the new Congress next year.

On Wednesday, President Obama expressed his disappointment with Congress’s failure to pass the act, and said, “My administration will continue to fight for a woman’s right to equal pay for equal work.”

News like this is a great incentive to get more involved in finding out what your state elected officials are supporting when it comes to women’s rights and equal pay. Spread the word! The American Association of University Women suggests adding a pay equity web sticker to your website or blog to promote equal pay action. If you‘re looking for more ways on how to get involved, you can download a Pay Equity Resource kit at aauw.org. And write to your senators! Your voice can inspire those around you to become supporters for change in the fight for equal pay rights.

For more information on pay equity, visit aauw.org and opencongress.org.

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Women and the AIDS Pandemic

By Teen Voices editorial intern Ally Betker

Each year, we mark World AIDS Day on December 1. It brings together people from around the world to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and provides opportunities for public and private partners to encourage progress in prevention, treatment, and care.

A recent World Health Organization study shows that AIDS is the leading killer of women of reproductive age in poor and middle-income countries.  As we observe World AIDS Day, it’s important to understand the special circumstances of women and girls coping with the disease.

Women’s exposure to HIV is closely related to gender discrimination and violation of women’s rights. In many societies, women have few rights within their sexual relationships. Men often make the majority of decisions, such as whom they will marry and whether they will have more than one sexual partner. This power imbalance means that it can be more difficult for women to protect themselves from getting infected with HIV. For example, a woman may not be able to ask to use a condom if her husband is the one who makes the decisions.

Mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) is an issue that directly affects women and at the same time increases the spread of HIV. MTCT occurs when an HIV positive woman passes the virus to her baby during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or breastfeeding. According to UNAIDS, at the end of 2007 there were an estimated 2 million children living with HIV, most of who contracted the disease from their mothers. A large number of these children will not live to adulthood. There are drugs that can reduce the chances of a child acquiring HIV from its mother, but they are unavailable in many parts of the world.

Advancing gender equality will increase women’s empowerment to negotiate safer sex and protect themselves from HIV infection. Equality will help women seek treatment, care, and support. HIV/AIDS and gender inequality are mutual — and if we work to solve these two problems in tandem, we can create lasting change.

For more on women and AIDS, please read about Sejal Hathi’s work with Girls Helping Girls and Nomhle’s Story.

Sources:

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/annual/world_aids_day/en/index.html

http://www.worldaidscampaign.org/en/Key-events/World-AIDS-Day/World-AIDS-Day-2009

http://www.unifem.org/news_events/story_detail.php?StoryID=987

http://www.avert.org/women-hiv-aids.htm