Nebraska declares itself “The Good Life.” Minnesota is “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” But activism and equal rights group UltraViolet is worried that when it comes to deciding which states you may want to travel to or live in, many may not be aware of how they stack up when it comes to gender discrimination.
Now, thanks to their new campaign, it’s easier than ever to know which states should get economic support and attract new businesses, and which states need a firm reminder that women are not only half the population, but also are responsible for a much greater percentage of purchases, and a large percentage of the workforce, too. The group of faux tourism board signs for states that are at the bottom rung for women economically, ranging from equal pay issues to lack of maternity leave to percentage of the population in poverty.
“Louisiana women are paid $.67 cents to every man’s dollar,” ticks off the brightly colored welcome sign graphic. “Many Louisiana politicians oppose the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. More than 22% live in poverty. Louisiana doesn’t guarantee ANY paid maternity or sick leave. A recent study ranks Louisiana the WORST state for women.”
The other states are not fairing much better. In North Carolina, the group notes, daycare costs $2600 per year more than the local college tuition. Ohio has closed five abortion clinics just in 2013. In Texas, Hispanic women make just $.45 per every dollar a white male makes.
Ultraviolet will be placing these signs in airports in six states: Kentucky, Ohio, Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina and Nevada. According to Ultraviolet co-founder Nita Chaudhary, the goal is to start a conversation among both politicians flying in and out of airports and the businesses considering moving to those particular states.
“The hope, Chaudhary said, is that people will start asking their elected representatives questions about their support for or opposition to certain policies that affect women, including minimum wage proposals, equal pay laws, anti-abortion laws, child care assistance and paid family and maternity leave laws,” writes Laura Bassett at Huffington Post.
Not every airport was excited to be chosen for the project, however. Bassett reports that one Florida airport refused to put up the signs inside, calling it a “political ad.” Chaudhary said that for airports in other states that have refused the ads, billboards near the airports will be purchased instead.
Whether the ads make it inside the airports themselves, or merely outside the airports, either way that will give tourists and locals definite food for thought. As families continue to struggle to make their wages cover their expenses, a reminder that part of the roadblock to more financial security is often the politicians making the laws becomes even more important. While local lawmakers run on the idea of making states more business friendly and say that they are trying to focus on economic versus social issues, they are continually putting regulations into place that harm the greatest economic force in a state: the buying power of the average consumer. Without equal earnings, women have less money to take home which affects her and her partner and children if she has them, and with daycare outpacing college tuition, the struggle between earning enough to keep a child in care when one income isn’t enough to keep a family afloat becomes a true crisis.
Women deserve economic equality on their own. But if for some reason that isn’t enough to encourage local politicians, the added benefits not just for their families but for their communities and for the businesses located in that state should push them to consider legislation to address the issue. If it takes some signs in an airport and a call out to shame these states into action, well, so be it.