“Twenty percent of the women in this state live below the poverty rate. Most of these women are black women,” Cassandra Welchlin said.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Mississippi is one step closer to closing the gender wage gap.
Last week the Mississippi House passed a bill on equal pay.
It is the only state in the country that does not have one.
While some say it’s a huge step towards closing the gender pay gap, others think it’s not enough.
Passing the Equal Pay in the House Bill is an effort many have been waiting for, but some say this bill still needs more work.
Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable has been heavily involved in advocating for suffrage and policies impacting black women.
They said that although the bill is in good faith, it still lacks many elements to fully address the issue.
They drafted amendments to the bill that they want lawmakers to add.
The group said this bill still allows discrimination to continue by letting employers set wages based on wage history.
They want this right removed from the bill because historically women have earned less than men.
Another amendment is to prevent employers from letting employees discuss their wages with each other.
The Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable also said the bill didn’t mention anything about race.
The organization said the issue of racial pay is even central to gender pay.
The organization’s executive director, Cassandra Welchlin, said black women lose more than $20,000 every year.
“Twenty percent of the women in this state live below the poverty rate. Most of these women are black women. And again, having a bill like this makes no sense. And it allows discrimination to continue in a state where we’re trying to dismantle those discriminatory practices,” said Welchlin, executive director of the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable.
Welchlin said if these amendments are added and the bill passes, the entire state of Mississippi will benefit.
“It will halve the poverty rate. Mississippi has a very high poverty rate. We know that households in the state that are headed by women, and in particular a final disproportionately, disproportionately black women, we’re in that poverty zone. And so a household with $21,000 more a year like a much tighter household,” Welchlin said.
The groups said if the state is successful in getting an equal pay bill, about $4.15 billion could flow back into the state’s economy.
To take a stand, members of the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable packed wallets and purses with cookies containing 56 cents to be left on all lawmakers’ desks at the state Capitol.
The 56 cents represent the 56 cents black women earn on the dollar.