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Make 2020 the year Hoosier women gain economic stability

Indiana legislators must act now to secure Hoosier women’s economic stability. On average, women in Indiana make 74 cents for their male peers’ dollar.

For black women in Indiana, the number is 58 cents on the dollar; for Latina women, it’s 53 cents. The threat of financial instability is especially pressing for women of color.

As a recent Indiana University graduate and a soon-to-be law student, this topic is especially important to me. I currently serve as a legislative intern for Women4Change, a non-partisan organization that advocates for Hoosier women. We are tracking legislation, meeting with lawmakers and educating community members on issues related to women’s economic stability. These efforts are reassuring; I want to work in a state that values equality in the workplace.

Last Thursday, state legislators from both major political parties spoke at the Women’s Economic Stability Press Conference, hosted by Women4Change and its Equality Pay$ coalition partners at the Indiana Statehouse.

“Women will lose out on over $200,000 over the course of their lifetime as a result of the gender pay gap,” Sen. Jean D. Breaux, D-Indianapolis, said at the conference. “$200,000 has consequences, today or tomorrow.”

The gender pay gap is a complex problem, touching on a variety of issues such as paid family leave, pregnancy accommodations and child care accessibility. Women4Change stands with Hoosier women by advocating for progress in all of these areas.

We are currently tracking legislation about wage history and wage range inquiries. House Bill 1162 would prohibit most employers from reviewing or relying on an applicant’s previous wages. This could help previously underpaid women to break free from the financial inequalities they faced at other jobs.

The Family and Children Services Committee will hold a hearing Monday, Jan. 27, on Senate Bill 342. This legislation would prohibit employers from discriminating against pregnant employees. Employers would also have to provide reasonable pregnancy accommodations.

Please contact your representatives and urge them to pass this legislation.

In the words of Sen. Breaux, “Let’s keep up the fight. It’s a fight worth having.”

Indiana’s gender pay gap is one of the widest in the country. It’s time we change that. 2020 is the year that we ensure a future of economic stability for Hoosier women.

Naomi Farahan, Legislative Intern, Women4Change