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March 06, 2023 CHAIR COLUMN

March CRSJ Chair's Column

March is Women’s History Month! March is also the month that CRSJ will host its first Economic Justice Summit at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC on March 30th and 31st. The Economic Justice Summit is the culmination of our Section’s year-long theme and focus, on economic justice issues that are inextricably connected to our broader civil rights agenda.  As I have repeated throughout this bar year, a civil rights agenda without an economic agenda is like trying to clap with one hand.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it is important to shed light on the sad reality that there are economic disparities that still exist for too many women in the United States and around the world.  These disparities were exasperated during the height of the COVID pandemic and now as a result of last year’s Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson.

For example, in April 2021, the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession hosted a virtual panel discussion that emphasized that from February 2020 (the month before the pandemic shut down) the unemployment rate among White women was 2.8%, among Hispanic women 4.9% and for Black women 4.8%.  By November 2020, the employment rate among these three categories had nearly doubled to 5.4% (White women), 8.2% (Hispanic women) and 9.0% (Black women).   

The earnings gap between men and women also remains disturbing. According to the Women’s Policy Institute, in 2019 on average white women made 78 cents for every dollar earned by white men, and the numbers for Hispanic women (56 cents) and Black women (61 cents) were worse.  Asian women faired the best, still making only 89 cents for every dollar made by white men.

Studies show and personal experience has reminded us that women’s lower earnings are due to a number of factors, including lower earnings in occupations done mainly by women; lack of paid family leave and subsidized child-care; and discrimination in compensation, recruitment, and hiring. As the Council for Economic Advisers correctly states, measures to improve the quality of jobs held mainly by women, tackle occupational segregation, enforce equal pay and equal employment opportunities, and improve work-family benefits for all workers will help the incomes of women and their families grow and strengthen the economy.

A true commitment to women means that we must close the economic gaps between men and women and remove the systemic barriers that created them and keeps these disparities in place today. Please join us later this month at our Economic Justice Summit as we will develop policy solutions and strategies to respond to these and other critically important economic and civil rights issues.  You can attend in person in DC or virtually by registering here.

Juan R. Thomas
Chair, Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice

Juan R. Thomas

ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, 2022-23 Chair

Juan R. Thomas is the 2022-23 Chair of the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice and Past President of the National Bar Association (NBA). Currently, he is Of Counsel to Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., and is the founder and principal of The Thomas Law Group.

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