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Imagine a world where a calendar year for a working woman lasted 457 days while a calendar year for a working man remained at 365 days. Even if the woman and man were given the same pay, one could imagine the financial struggles that the woman would face if she were forced to stretch her annual salary over an additional three months.
Unfortunately, that scenario is a reality for a majority of women in Miami-Dade County and around the nation. It is a reality that is recognized every year on April 2nd, also known as Equal Pay Day. More than Equal Pay Day, it’s a yearly call to action to ensure that efforts to achieve true pay equity in the workplace are achieved.
While it has been 56 years since the federal Equal Pay Act was signed into law, women’s pay still lags behind men’s. The 2019 Status of Women in Miami-Dade report, which was drafted in response to legislation I authored and championed, shows that the local wage disparity has not changed much in the last decade, with women making about 86 cents to a dollar a man earns.
What’s most concerning is that women in the county may be losing economic ground. In 2017, women in Miami-Dade earned 10.2% less than they did in 2007, despite constant gains in education. According to the report, the median annual salary of men who work full time was $37,164, while the median salary for a woman was $31,875, a difference of 14.2%.
When we drill down into specific professions, troubling patterns emerge. Women scientists in Miami-Dade make 25% less than their male colleagues who do the same job. In the legal profession, a female lawyer in Miami makes half of what a male attorney makes. Using previous Status of Women reports as their guide, the Miami-Dade Commission for Women has made several recommendations on ways to improve the lives of women and girls in Miami-Dade.
With the support of my fellow commissioners, I successfully turned many of those recommendations into countywide policy:
- We now require county vendors to sign an Equal Pay affidavit.
- Women leaving homeless assistance centers and jails are now provided with information on social services.
- The county has changed its arrest forms to distinguish human trafficking from general sex crimes.
- The county is updating its sexual harassment ordinance.
- The county now requires education information on all county employees.
I choose to imagine a Miami-Dade County where women and girls are empowered to live their best lives. But in order for everyone to realize their full potential in Miami-Dade, we must work together across sectors – business, government, nonprofits – to adopt sound policies and workplace practices that will tackle the entrenched discrimination that women face.
Today, I am launching my campaign for Mayor of Miami-Dade County in large part to take on this issue more aggressively and serve as model community for other local governments. We have done a lot in the last few years on the Commission. To reshape our future and define what tomorrow looks like, we need a transformational leader as our next Mayor, and I am prepared to be just that!
Daniella Levine Cava is a county commissioner representing District 8, and candidate for mayor of Miami-Dade County.