Tuesday is Equal Pay Day

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SOUTH BEND April 8 is Equal Pay Day, a time women's advocacy groups across the nation will recognize a wage gap between men and women. The US Census Bureau says on average, women make 77% of their male counterparts earnings in a year. The numbers are concerning to women across the nation.

"It's a fairness issue for women" said Linda Baechle, the CEO of the YWCA of Northern Central Indiana. "Why is it that in 2014 women are still paid, in Indiana, 73 cents on the dollar for every dollar that a man is paid, nationally, 77 cents on the dollar? There is no one that can look at that and think this is right or fair."

The disparity is greater among African American and Latina women. Experts say factors like choice of occupation, experience and education play a role in the wage gap.

"Increasing your education does not, in fact, mean that you're going to close that gap between what it is men are paid and what it is women are paid," said Baechle.

For single mothers, like Lydia Vanacker of South Bend, less income means a tough situation for her and her son.

"I live from paycheck to paycheck and sometimes not even that," said Vanacker. "It's very hard to be able to look for a place to live, pay all the bills you need to pay being out on your own, plus your food, and raising your child on less than the money you make."

Another single mother, Gloria Bedenfield, says despite data that says the wage gap is greater among educated women, she is going back to school to make a better life for her children.

"It's going to make somewhat of a difference, but is it going to bring me up to equal pay status? Not right now," said Bedenfield. "Not until the rules and the laws are changed. That's why I am an advocate voter, I vote regularly. I want to know what my politicians are doing and saying because I want my vote to count."

Two laws exist to regulate wages in the US. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But, even with protection, some experts say it's not enough.

"I think it's up to individual employers a lot of times to look at what is it they're paying their work force and what is based on and is it right," said Baechle.

On Tuesday, women throughout Michiana will gather on the steps of the St. Joseph County Courthouse at 5:00 p.m. to rally for Fair Pay.

For more information about Equal Pay Day, click here.


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