Charlotte mayor: Equal pay a focus as activists gather for ‘Remarchable Women’ event this weekend

By   –  Charlotte Business Journal, January 19, 2018

Voter participation and political awareness are the main themes for the “Remarchable Women” event in uptown Charlotte this weekend. Mayor Vi Lyles told CBJ another item must be added to the list: equal pay for equal work.

Charlotte women — and children and men — plan to march on Saturday in uptown as part of an encore edition of protests last January following the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Depending on whose reports and accounts you heard, at least 10,000 people participated here in 2017. Charlotte police did not make an official crowd estimate, a CMPD spokesman told me.

Around the world, an estimated 2.6 million people voiced their concerns over Trump, a Republican who has come under scrutiny and criticism by Democrats and some members of his own party for disparaging women, African Americans, Muslims and other ethnicities and religions.

Lyles, a Democrat, is among a roster of activists and political leaders who will speak to marchers when they gather for a rally at First Ward Park at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Speeches will end at noon, followed by a mile march to Romare Bearden Park.

“One of the things I want to encourage the business community to do is to really look at gender pay equity,” Lyles told me this week. “Women are still lagging behind.”

Nationally, according to studies based on median pay by gender, women earn 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts.

In December, Washington-based nonpartisan nonprofit advocacy group AAUW published analysis of 2016 statistics for 25 large U.S. cities. Charlotte was among them, with a gender pay ratio of 79% — meaning a woman here typically earns 79 cents for every dollar paid to a man in the same job — and a median annual pay gap of $10,500.

Lyles said her concerns include city government, but extend into the private sector. Neither the mayor nor the city’s media staff could provide an exact figure for gender pay equity in city government. Last year, then-Mayor Jennifer Roberts said it was nearly even, with women earning 97 cents compared with every dollar paid to their male colleagues.

Jan Anderson, a retired engineer who worked often on environmental impact studies tied to transportation projects, is the president of Charlotte Women’s March, the advocacy group formed after last year’s protest to push for action on issues including women’s health, immigration, education, and candidates and voters.

Anderson told me the group is nonpartisan and won’t endorse candidates. Instead, she said, Charlotte Women’s March has and will continue to host candidate forums and will also encourage supporters to become politically aware and active.

While the group is officially nonpartisan, it has a Democratic bent. In addition to Lyles, three Democrats on City Council — Dimple AjmeraJulie Eiselt and LaWana Mayfield — are scheduled to speak Saturday, as is another Democrat, Congresswoman Alma Adams, who represents North Carolina’s 12th District.

A year ago in Washington, an estimated 500,000 people marched. This weekend, the main event commemorating the one-year anniversary, “Power to the Polls,” will be held in Las Vegas. Notable speakers there include U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Georgia Congressman John Lewis, a noted civil rights activist who suffered a fractured skull while marching in Selma, Ala., in 1965.