Virginia Marks Women's Equality Day

Aug 26, 2019

Dozens gathered at the state Capitol Monday to fight for equal rights for women.

They’re continuing a push to make Virginia the final state needed to pass the Equal Rights Amendment and change the U.S. Constitution.  

First Lady Pam Northam spoke, as well as former First Lady Anne Holton.   "You know this effort started in Virginia back when my dad was Governor - when Linwood Holton was Governor," Anne Holton told the group. "And my mom and dad were champions for women's rights. Almost 50 years ago." 

Efforts to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified have picked up steam again in recent years.  But the amendment has failed to pass in Virginia’s Republicans controlled legislature. 

Census data shows women in Virginia still still lag behind their male counterparts when it comes to pay.

Women in Virginia earn 79 cents on the dollar compared to men according to numbers from the United States Census Bureau. And that’s a disparity that has long-term consequences says Toni Calasanti at Virginia Tech.  “Not only are they earning less now but they will, in old age, receive less in Social Security. So throughout their lives, regardless of their education or their occupation they’re going to be consistently in a worse financial position than men are.”

Credit US Census Bureau Data

Bonnie Stabile at George Mason University says that women are worse off in almost almost every public policy indicator.  “They’re less likely to make as much money as men, less likely to hold positions of authority. So all the indicators except life expectancy. I think that speaks to how tough women are because we tend to have the greater life expectancy. But other than that we are simply not there yet.”

According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, Virginia ranks 23 among states in terms of the wage gap between women and men. The state with the largest gap is Louisiana, and the state that is the closest to parity between the genders is California.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.