Today is Equal Pay Day
Equal Pay Day is an annual symbolic event highlighting the gender pay gap by representing how far into the year women must work to make the same amount that men earned in the previous year. In Canada, Equal Pay Day is observed on April 4, which means that, on average, women must work more than three months of additional hours to make the same amount that men earned in the previous year.
The gender pay gap is the difference in earnings between men and women, typically measured as a percentage of men’s earnings. In Canada, the gender pay gap has persisted despite progress in gender equality over the past several decades. According to Statistics Canada, women earned 87 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2020. The gap is even wider for women who belong to marginalized groups, such as Indigenous women, racialized women, and women with disabilities.
Equal Pay Day is an opportunity to raise awareness about the gender pay gap and the ongoing struggle for gender equality. It is also a call to action for policymakers, employers, and individuals to take steps to address the issue. Some measures that can help reduce the gender pay gap include pay transparency, pay equity legislation, flexible work arrangements, and training and development programs that help women advance in their careers.
The concept of Equal Pay Day has its roots in the feminist movement of the 1960s, which sought to address gender inequality in various areas, including the workplace. The history of Equal Pay Day can be traced back to the United States, where the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) first recognized it in 1996. The NCPE chose April 4 as the date for Equal Pay Day because it represented how far into the year women had to work to make the same amount that men earned in the previous year. Since then, Equal Pay Day has become an annual event in the United States, and similar observances have been established in other countries, including Canada.
The first Equal Pay Day in Canada was observed in 2017, organized by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). The CLC chose April 11 as the date for Equal Pay Day that year. In subsequent years, the date for Equal Pay Day in Canada has been adjusted to reflect changes in the gender pay gap.
Equal Pay Day serves as a reminder that gender equality is an ongoing struggle that requires the engagement of individuals, organizations, and governments. While progress has been made in reducing the gender pay gap, much work still needs to be done to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work. Raising awareness about the issue and advocating for change can create a more just and equitable society for all. Equal pay for work of equal value is a cornerstone of the labour movement. In Canada of 2023, there is no valid reason for this gap to continue.