The U.S. Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS was pleased to host prominent American activist Lilly Ledbetter in Barbados as she delivered a free public lecture on equal pay for equal work on May 3 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Center.
The U.S. Embassy presented the lecture to promote pay parity and equal rights in the workplace. Distinguished guests included Head of Gender Studies at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Charmaine Crawford.
Ms. Ledbetter was born in a small town in Alabama, and in 1979 she applied for her dream job at a nearby Goodyear tire factory. Even though the only women she’d seen there were secretaries in the front offices where she’d submitted her application, she got the job — one of the first women hired at the management level. Though she faced daily gender prejudice and sexual harassment, Ms. Ledbetter pressed onward, believing that eventually things would change. Then, 19 years after her first day at Goodyear, Ms. Ledbetter received an anonymous note revealing that she was making thousands of dollars less per year than the men in her position. She became the namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Barack Obama’s first official piece of legislation as president.
In her opening remarks at the public lecture, U.S. Ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Linda Taglialatela lauded Ms. Ledbetter’s achievements, saying, “In remarks commemorating Equal Pay Day last month, President Obama noted that the average woman who works full time in the United States still earns 79 cents for every dollar an average man makes. ‘Equal pay for equal work should be a fundamental principle of our economy,’ President Obama said. ‘It’s the idea that whether you’re a high school teacher, a business executive, or a professional soccer player or tennis player, your work should be equally valued and rewarded, whether you are a man or a woman.’ Pay parity and equal rights in the workplace are worth fighting for — in the United States and throughout the world. It is no coincidence that in nations where the rights of all workers are upheld, economies thrive and societies flourish.”