Thursday, May 04, 2006 publishes a manifesto

To cut to the chase... (Updated, at the end of this post...)

There is a silent crisis in America. Mothers and families are in trouble. The wage gap between mothers and non-mothers is now greater than between women and men: One study found non-mothers earn 10% less than their male counterparts; mothers earn 27% less; and single mothers earn between 44% and 34% less.

This wage hit has a direct impact on families--a full quarter of families with children under six live in poverty, at least 9 million children don’t have any health care, and far too many parents can’t afford to stay home with sick children. Working toward common sense family-friendly policies like those covered in The Motherhood Manifesto will help all families.

The above paragraphs were part of an email we received from Joan Blades, one of the founders of (and a co-founder of Please sign their petition and include a comment, if you wish (it's your opportunity to say what you really want to say), and then pass it along to friends and colleagues.
has a goal of obtaining 50,000 signatures and comments before Mother's Day and delivering them to leaders in Congress. I'll bet they collect many, many more. You can order a copy of the manifesto here.

Side note: How is such a widening gap even possible? Well, apparently, it is entirely legal in many states, including the one where I live, for an employer to pay a woman who does not have a husband, but does have kids, less money than a woman with a husband, or without kids. Incredible! Here is a short excerpt from one woman's story that was included in the email:
His response was as candid as it was horrifying. "He said if you don't have a husband and have children, then I pay less per hour because I have to pay benefits for the entire family." The attorney noted that a married woman's husband usually had health insurance to cover the kids, and since Kiki didn't have a husband, he "didn't want to get stuck with the bill for my children's health coverage."

It was the first time Kiki pushed for an explanation, and she was appalled by the answer. "I said to him, 'You mean to tell me that if I am doing the exact same work, typing the same exact subpoena as a coworker, you're going to pay me less because I have no husband and have kids?' And he very smugly told me, 'Yes, absolutely.'"

That really should [have] put the lie to the age-old excuse for paying men more: because they have a family to support. The given excuse is never really about what it says it is, but is always about the gender.

* * *

And in a related matter, NOW is beginning a campaign to raise the minimum wage. Truly a worthy and worthwhile effort, and long overdue. We learned about it while reading Lynn Harris's post in Salon's Broadsheet.

And Senator Ted Kennedy has a petition you can sign to show your support for an increase in the minimum wage. Frankly, this bill is a very modest one in my opinion. The Senator writes that during the nine years that the Republicans have controlled congress, this piece of legislation has been completely stalled. He summarizes:
The Act will raise the minimum wage from its current level of $5.15 to $7.25 by 2008. That's an extra $4,400 a year for these hard-working families to spend on basic necessities like food, housing and childcare.
How is $7.25 possibly enough to consider as a minimum wage, especially for a single woman with several children? Wouldn't $10 per hour be a much more realistic, and still very modest, amount for a minimum wage? Well, that's what I wrote, tho' not quite as nicely, in my comment, when I signed the petition.


Blogger Thursday Next said...

Sometimes I just get ill when I hear about things like this.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Lyssa Strada said...

Yes, but the good news is that a really large group of women-- and some men-- will be doing something about it. Think about what Birdie wrote in her first post here, and how a lot of laser points of light shining on something can change it. At least one of the women starting up was a co-founder of, i.e., she's already battle-hardened.

The really bad news was not even knowing that form of discrimation was legal.

It is not going to be easy for Congress to just let it slide. In fact, this being an election year, seems like a really good time to embarrass them with such stats, juxtaposed with their glib talk about family values. Hah! Let them prove it.

12:51 PM  

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