When we lift women out of poverty, the whole community benefits.
Too many women struggle daily to make ends meet, at a time when 6 out of 10 are the primary or sole provider for their families. We all become stronger and more vibrant when women can earn enough money to support their families and have economic security. This strengthens the next generation by opening doors to education and good jobs.
A host of issues—including pay equity, paid family leave, payday lending reform and access to employment and leadership opportunities—impact women’s economic security. Public policies in these areas have been slow to change, but we are working to address them.
Women should be paid the same as men for doing the same work. On average, Nebraska women earn 73 percent of what men earn, with an even bigger wage gap for women of color and LGBTQ women. In Nebraska, equal pay for women could reduce the poverty of single mothers by nearly 68 percent.
A typical working woman loses $530,000 over her lifetime due to the wage gap, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. By the time a college-educated working woman turns 59, she will have lost almost $800,000. In fact, the gender wage gap is widest for women with higher levels of educational attainment. For example, a woman with a graduate degree earns less than a man with a bachelor’s degree.
The first step in closing the pay gap is through pay transparency. The Women’s Fund supports LB 217 would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who disclose and discuss their compensation. Knowledge is power.
Paid Family Leave
Caring for families has traditionally fallen to women, yet most companies don’t offer adequate paid family and medical leave. This continues to make women more vulnerable. In Nebraska, 71 percent of children have a working mother, and she represents 44 percent of the family’s income.
Paid family and medical leave is not a women’s issue – it’s a human issue. All families should have the opportunity to thrive.
Payday Lending Reform
All families need access to credit. But with annual interest rates of more than 450 percent, payday loans leave families worse off. That’s why we are advocating for payday lending reform—to ensure that loans are reasonable and fair for consumers.
We took a step forward on payday lending during the 2018 legislative session, but much work remains. Passed by the legislature LB 194 includes the following provisions:
- Closes a loophole that payday lenders in other states have utilized to evade regulatory limits on interest and fees;
- Includes new reporting requirements that will allow the Department of Banking and Finance to more effectively track lending activity;
- Creates a payment plan borrowers can request once per year that would allow a little more time to pay back a loan.
LB 194 falls short in addressing the core issues that make payday loans harmful to borrowers, namely the high cost and short duration of current loans, but we will continue to work with our coalition partners so that all women and families in Nebraska have access to affordable credit as a tool to build economic stability.