The Women’s Fund of the Greenbrier Valley Community Foundation (GVCF) will be showing the film “Made in Dagenham” on Monday, Apr. 20, at 7 p.m. at the Lewis Theatre in downtown Lewisburg to recognize Equal Pay Day and raise awareness about pay equity issues. Admission to the event is 70 cents for women and $1 for men. Proceeds from the event will be contributed to the Women’s Fund to support local programs that promote empowerment, economic security, and self-reliance for women and adolescent girls.
“Made in Dagenham” tells the story of the 1968 sewing machinists strike at the Ford Plant near London, England. It stars Sally Hawkins as the cheeky Rita O’Grady who leads the women of Dagenham after they are down-graded from “skilled” to “unskilled” and suffer a pay loss. What begins as a strike for higher pay ends as a demand for wholesale societal change. Also in the cast are Bob Hoskins, Rosamund Pike, Andrea Riseborough, and Miranda Richardson.
Diane Browning, Rural Retirement Project Coordinator of the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), will introduce the film and draw attention to financial security issues affecting women today. Browning is working with WISER to promote long-term savings, especially for those who do not have access to employer-based plans.
The event will highlight the need to close the wage gap that still exists between women, as well as people of color, and men. According to US Census data women only earn 77 cents to men’s dollar. Over a working lifetime, this wage disparity costs the average American woman and her family an estimated $700,000 to $2 million, impacting Social Security benefits and pensions. The wage gap exists, in part, because many women and people of color are still segregated into a few low-paying occupations. More than half of all women workers hold sales, clerical and service jobs. Studies show that the more an occupation is dominated by women or people of color, the less it pays. Part of the wage gap results from differences in education, experience or time in the workforce. But a significant portion cannot be explained by any of those factors; the General Accounting Office’s Oct. 2003 report “Women’s Earnings,” which examined 18 years of data, found a 20 percent earnings gap between women and men that could not be explained, even when accounting for demographic and work-related factors such as occupation, industry, race, marital status and job tenure. This gap is attributable to discrimination; certain jobs pay less simply because they are held by women and people of color.