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Guest column/BPW continues mission of achieving equity

October 16, 2011
The Herald-Star

Today is the kick-off for National Business & Professional Women's Week. We will gather in Pennsylvania for the annual Tri-State Ecumenical Service today, where we meet with our BPW Sisters from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to reflect on all the years we have struggled to try to accomplish our mission: To achieve equity for all women in the workplace through advocacy, education and information.

The National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs was founded on July 15, 1919.

The organization later filed to "do business as" Business and Professional Women/USA.

Throughout the years, three major issues shaped this organization's legislative agenda: elimination of sex discrimination in employment, the principle of equal pay and the need for a comprehensive equal rights amendment.

When President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act on June 10, 1963, it would become law that it was illegal to pay women lower rates for the same job strictly on the basis of their sex. Demonstrable differences in seniority, merit, the quality or quantity of work or other considerations might merit different pay, but gender could no longer be viewed as a drawback on one's resume.

The Paycheck Fairness Act strengthens and updates the Equal Pay Act of 1963. It calls for a study of data collected by the EEOC and proposes voluntary guidelines to show employers how to evaluate jobs with the goal of eliminating unfair disparities. It was passed by the House of Representatives on Jan. 9, 2009, and was defeated in the Senate on a 58-41 procedural vote on Nov. 17, 2010. We cannot wait another 50 years to achieve pay equity.

Today a woman still makes 77 cents to a man's dollar.

Locally, the Ohio Valley Business & Professional Women's Club will gather at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Best Western University Inn. Our guest speaker will be Laura Meeks, president of Eastern Gateway Community College. Her speech is entitled "Life in Women's Shoes." We will be serving hors d'oeuvres, and the public is invited to attend. There is no charge to attend this event.

The Ohio Valley Business & Professional Women's Club meets the third Tuesday of every month from September to May.

Please join us to meet our local president, Shannon-Minch Hughes.

For additional information, contact me at (740) 266-2466.

(Riccadonna is vice president of the Ohio BPW.)

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