Statement of Executive Council Candidate Dan Weeks on Equal Pay Day
It is unacceptable that in the year 2016, American women earn just 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, a fundamental injustice which we highlight on Equal Pay Day today. Although progress has been made in countering America’s pay gap in the last few decades, the pace of progress has slowed in recent years.
It is even more unacceptable that New Hampshire lags behind the rest of the country, and far behind our neighboring New England states, in pay equity. According to a new study released Monday by the National Partnership for Women and Families and covered by NH Business Review, New Hampshire women earn 76% of the amount earned by men, placing us in the bottom twelve states in terms of pay disparity between the sexes. The $13,565 difference in average annual compensation received by women compared to men in New Hampshire ($42,052 vs. $55,617) does not merely affect women's own wellbeing but that of their children and families.
For the 24 percent of our state’s female-headed households currently living in poverty, the consequences of unequal pay are particularly severe.
Gender inequity is not limited to economic life. Although New Hampshire made history in 2012 by electing the first all-female congressional delegation, women currently occupy just one-third of State Senate seats, 28 percent of State House seats, and none of the five Executive Council seats. These and other troubling findings are documented in the 2015 Open Democracy Index, which I co-authored as Executive Director of the nonpartisan organization Open Democracy.
While my candidacy does not contribute to correcting the lack of female representation on the Executive Council, I am committed to continuing my advocacy for gender equity — begun as a board member of the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation — and to working with women leaders across District 5 and in Concord to move our state forward on these pressing justice matters. I am particularly concerned with encouraging women candidates to stand for public office up and down the ballot.
The Executive Council has an important role to play in the promotion of gender equality in New Hampshire through the contracting and appointment process. I call on my opponent, Executive Councilor David Wheeler, to reverse his opposition to providing cancer screenings and basic health services to approximately 12,000 low-income New Hampshire women at the state’s five Planned Parenthood centers through state contracts that have enjoyed broad bipartisan support for more than 30 years. As Executive Councilor, I will work to right these wrongs and take a proactive approach to promoting gender equity in state contracting and appointments.