In celebration of International Women’s Day, Queens College’s Socialist Alternative held a discussion about the state of women for economic justice and equality.
Stephanie Sucasaca, member of Socialist Alternative and recent QC graduate, led the discussion, conducted in the Student Union, by speaking on the gender gap.
America is only 67th in pay equity rankings worldwide, which, according to Sucasaca, is due to the capitalist system thriving in America that is contingent on inequality.
Statistically, white women make 70 cents to every dollar a man makes, with African American women making 64 cents and Latina women making 55 cents.
A 2013 Pew Research Center report found in 1980, women earned 67 percent of men’s average hourly wage, while in 2012 women earned 93 percent of what men made. The report noted it could still decline.
“Yet, there is no guarantee that today’s young women will sustain their near parity with men in earnings in the years to come. Recent cohorts of young women have fallen further behind their same-aged male counterparts as they have aged and dealt with the responsibilities of parenthood and family,” the report said.
The recent economic crisis has exacerbated the economic issues caused by neoliberal policies, resulting in many women losing their jobs, according to Socialist Alternataive.
Sucasaca highlighted the global issues women are faced with as well to demonstrate the power of protesting.
“In the past 30 years, in this country, I’ve seen the clock turning back on women’s rights,” Sucasaca said.
The group took the day to fight for a raise in minimum wage, an issue which women are greatly invested in, as women —particularly women of color — make up two-thirds of minimum wage workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The demand is for the minimum wage to be raised to $15 per hour.
The Obama administration has come out in support of the Democrats’ proposal to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2016.
President Obama says he will unilaterally increase the minimum wage for workers under new federal contracts in an effort to build momentum for a minimum wage hike for all Americans. It is a move Sucasaca called “too little, too late.”
“[The minimum wage increase] is a unifying issue that breaks through racial and gender barriers,” Sucasaca said.
Gender inequality is hardly limited to the U.S. Gallup research finds that women are significantly less likely than men to be employed at capacity for an employer in 38 of the 144 countries. The gender gap is at least 15 percent in 13 countries, and is as wide as 22 points or more in countries such as Ecuador, Saudi Arabia and Bolivia.
Sucasaca continued that there has been an increase in attacks on women’s right to choice, reinstating old limitations that women have already fought to break through.
There is only one abortion clinic left in Mississippi and abortion is still illegal in Ireland, leaving only women with the funds to get to England with the possibility of safely exercising their freedom of choice, Sucasaca explained.
Sucasaca argued there are still privileges among women, as capitalism requires a hierarchy and is a system invested in women not uniting.
Jules Kondo, a 22-year-old senior and member of the organization, believed the meeting was successful in explaining the significance of International Women’s Day in contemporary times.
“I felt that the discussion was very productive in that we had addressed many key issues concerning international women’s rights,” Kondo said. “We live today in a global capitalist society that systematically oppresses women for the incentive of profit. Within the last century, the women’s rights movement has grown and conditions have bettered. However, we are not yet where we should be in terms of true gender equality.”