Mar 24, 2021
Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Megan Rapinoe Speeches on Equal Pay Day Transcript March 24
President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden hosted an Equal Pay Day event on March 24, 2021 with the U.S. Soccer Women’s National Team. Read the transcript of speeches from Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Megan Rapinoe, and Margaret Purce here.
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Margaret Purce: (00:02)
Good afternoon. It is wonderful to be here on a day as important as this. Over the past few decades, we have witnessed women progress in the workforce displaying excellence, commitment and resilience across industries. We have seen women rise to be champions for change, pioneers of thought, all while wrestling with systems that have been unable to upgrade at the same pace as them. Bravo, ladies. The strength of unequal pay rests on the notion of unequal value. It is an issue of equity. When men began sports leagues, they were supported by billions in taxpayer subsidies. They were prioritized in media and afforded time to grow. The investment was great and the return was great. I have watched and joined a league of women who are remarkable at their craft, and together, we have asked for the same grace that was extended to men in the formative years of their leagues, true investment.
Margaret Purce: (01:09)
I’ve spoken about equal pay in formal settings such as this and in informal exchanges. Often I’m resisted with declarations like, there just isn’t enough interest in women’s sports. My response is always this, you would never expect a flower to bloom without water, but women in sport who have been denied water, sunlight and soil are somehow expected to blossom. Invest in women then let’s talk again when you see the return. I went to thank the US Women’s National Team for being an emblem of hope, a voice of reason and a force for change. Mr. President, Madam Vice-president and Dr. Jill Biden, thank you for your commitment and attention to advancing economic security for women. We look forward to working alongside you. Now it is my distinct pleasure to introduce the first lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden.
Dr. Jill Biden: (02:33)
Thank you. Margaret, you’ve been called one of the most exciting players to watch this year. And though you are new to the national team, you’ve already stepped up to serve on the league’s collective bargaining executive committee. So thank you for your leadership and for being a role model to so many young women and girls around this country, thank you. So, hello everybody, and welcome to the White House. When I got my first teaching job, I was thrilled. After years of getting my degree and substitute teaching, I was finally going to be able to start the career that I had been dreaming about. And then I found out that they were paying me only 75% of the man who was actually hired the same time. I couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t just the money, though that was unfair, it was the lack of respect, the discrimination.
Dr. Jill Biden: (03:45)
Why was my work worth less? We were working the same hours, teaching the same number of students and had similar experience. Well, that was in 1975. And today, all these years later, there are women who are still in the exact same position. This is personal to me because it’s personal to all women. It’s one example of how we still treat women differently than men, and it’s wrong. And as this pandemic widens the income wealth gap between men and women, it’s urgent because this issue is so much bigger than the number on a paycheck. Our work gives us a sense of purpose. It’s often how we make our mark on the lives of others and the world. For me, teaching isn’t just a job, it’s part of who I am. And that’s why when I became first lady, the honor of a lifetime, I also knew that I had to do it while holding onto this piece of myself. I had to keep teaching.
Dr. Jill Biden: (05:08)
As Joe’s dad used to say, a job is so much more than a paycheck. But our paychecks reflect how we are valued by our employers and even by our communities. How do we value women when they have to work three months and 24 days longer to make the same amount as their male colleagues? How do we value the black and Latina women who have to work many months more just to make up that same number. Equal work deserves equal pay no matter who does it. And since my first teaching job, we’ve made progress in many ways, but I don’t want my granddaughters to have to fight the same battle. I don’t want them to worry about getting paid less solely based on their gender. It’s way past time to pay women equally. And with the passion and dedication of leaders like Megan Rapinoe, I know we can get there. And Megan, you’ll have to forgive me, but I decided not to dye my hair purple again.
Dr. Jill Biden: (06:31)
The last time I saw her, I sprayed purple on my hair. But that doesn’t mean I’m any less excited that you are here. One of my most cherished moments with my grandkids was watching the US women’s soccer team win the World Cup in 2015. They were in awe you, especially our soccer player, my granddaughter, Maisie. And then you went on to become the first team in history to win four women’s World Cup titles. You’ve shown again and again and again that grit, skill and the ability to bring home championships have no gender. And you’ve been fearless in your mission to make sure that pay has no gender either. In fact, you and your teammates put your careers on the line for this cause. When you saw your male colleagues being treated differently, you stood up and you said, enough. That courage is why you are a hero to my grandchildren and fans around the world. Over and over, you inspire us to stand tall and speak out. From our whole family and especially our granddaughters, thank you. Thank you.
Megan Rapinoe: (08:27)
First time all day with no mask on, it’s nice, it’s nice. I’m sure you all feel the same. Okay. I need a fancy presidential binder, maybe one of these days. Dr. Jill Biden, thank you so much for the introduction and your amazing words. Good afternoon, everybody. It’s such an honor to be here today, so thank you two POTUS and FLOTUS for hosting Margaret and I. It really is a special day for both of us. There’s not many, I can probably count them on half a hand, moments where I find myself without the words to say, and today I did when I walked into the Oval Office here at the White House. You can’t help but pause and take a moment to acknowledge those who have walked these halls before you, thinking about the civil rights leaders and the champions of equality and the people who never made it into the room, but fought so hard so that others like me would. I can’t help but feel inspired and grateful to them, and also a deep sense of responsibility.
Megan Rapinoe: (09:43)
I’m a member of the LGBTQ community with pink hair. And where I come from, I could have only dreamed that I would be standing in the position I am today at the White House. I’m also a professional athlete and I’ve helped, along with all of my teammates virtually here today, one teammate literally here today, win four World Cup championships and four Olympic gold medals for the United States. And despite those wins, I’ve been devalued, I’ve been disrespected and dismissed because I am a woman, and I’ve been told that I don’t deserve any more than less because I am a woman. You see, despite all the wins, I’m still paid less than men who do the same job that I do. For each trophy, of which there are many, and for each win, for each tie and for each time that we play, it’s less. And I know there are millions of people who are marginalized by gender in the world and experience the same thing in their jobs.
Megan Rapinoe: (10:53)
And I know that there are people who experience even more where the layers of discrimination continue to stack against them. And I and my teammates are here for them. We on the US women’s national team today are here because of them. We also know what it means not only to have allies, but to be allies. We know what it means when people kneel, to kneel with them. We know what it means when people stand and cheer, and we know what it’s like to be in a full stadium, thousands and thousands of people who chant together all at once at our moment of greatest trials, equal pay, equal pay. Beyond the cheers and the gestures, there is so much real work to be done on policies that continue to support equal pay, but also continue to fight against these injustices and inequalities. And not just for ourselves, but for those who are coming after us, who are watching us, potentially watching today thinking to themselves what may be possible for their future.
Megan Rapinoe: (12:06)
And that is why it is an incredible honor and privilege for me to introduce one of our greatest allies, our president, the president of the United States of America, Joe Biden. They got to do the cleaning and everything. It’s less dramatic because of COVID, but it’s okay.
Joe Biden: (12:29)
Thank you, thank you.
Megan Rapinoe: (12:29)
Joe Biden: (12:43)
Good afternoon, everyone. Megan and Margaret, thank you. Thank you for being here, and all your teammates virtually, thank you as well. I’m an unadulterated fan, not a joke, not a joke. And both of you and your entire team, I’m not joking, have inspired our daughters and our granddaughters who I might add are all really good athletes. One, two time All-State, my niece, All-America. There’s a whole lot of talent in the Biden family athletics, almost all on the women’s side of the equation. But really, thank you for what you’ve done. You’re all heroes for so many people, and that’s not hyperboly to suggest that on and off the field. And it matters that you lent your voice to the issue of fair pay and decency for so many years. Megan, it’s hard to believe. It was almost a year ago that we met virtually during the campaign.
Joe Biden: (13:41)
I said it last April when we spoke and I’ll say it again, the fact that Jill and I get to talk with you and your teammates makes us heroes with our granddaughters, not a joke. I went so far as I took what they might say a privilege of getting our granddaughter, Maisie, who’s a rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania taking a course right now, I got her on the phone so all she wanted to do was meet both of these women and meet them virtually, and she’s a soccer player. And as Jill mentioned, seeing you in the World Cup back in 2015, that was an incredible moment for our family and our country. And I didn’t bore you with all the pictures we still have walking on the field, no I’m serious, and off the field. You all made me a hero with my granddaughters. And the reason we’re here today is because it’s Equal Pay Day, which has been around for 25 years.
Joe Biden: (14:38)
It was declared 25 years ago, Equal Pay Day, though not enough people know about that as they should. It’s a day that measures how much longer women typically have to work to match what men make in a single year, that’s what Jill was talking about. And it’s shocking when you look at the numbers. 12 years ago, when President Obama and I came into office, the very first law we enacted was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and Lilly was standing at our side. That year, I should say, in 2009, we marked Equal Pay Day occurred in late April. By late April, women will have made at that time on average what men make in 12 months. They had to go all the way through January, February, March and April to catch up. That meant that it took women until April 2009 to earn the same amount of money that a man made in all of 2008.
Joe Biden: (15:39)
Another way to look at it is it took more than 15 months for a woman to earn the same amount that a man made in 12. In more than three extra months, it’s more than that and it’s even longer for women of color, and it’s wrong. This year, Equal Pay Day falls in late March, which is a little bit better, but not much from late April to late March. And frankly, we shouldn’t be satisfied that Equal Pay Day is no longer even necessary to mention at all. The reality though is that in nearly every job, more than 90% of the occupations, women still earn less than men. 82 cents on the dollar on average. For AAPI women, it’s 87 cents for every dollar a white man earns. For black women, it’s 63 cents. For Native American women, it’s 60 cents. For Hispanic women, it’s 55 cents. It doesn’t matter if you’re an electrician, an accountant or part of the best damn soccer team in the world, the pay gap is real.
Joe Biden: (16:46)
And this team is living proof that you can be the very best at what you do and still have to fight for equal pay. As Jill mentioned, this pandemic has only exacerbated the problem. Women are on the front lines as essential workers, particularly women of color in hospitals, grocery stores, childcare facilities, farms, factories, but they’re still earning less. More than two million women have dropped out of the workforce since the pandemic started. two million. And now we’re at the lowest rate of women participation in labor force that we’ve been in more than 30 years. Let me say that again, the lowest percent of women in the workforce had to go back 30 years to get to where we are today. A lot of that is because so much extra weight of caregiving and responsibilities falling on their shoulders.
Joe Biden: (17:43)
It causes women to miss work, cut hours and leave their jobs and care for their children, aged and loved ones. That in and of itself saw some discrimination. How many men are staying home and doing it and the women are staying in the workforce? It undermines financial security. And by the way, it’s hard. I was a single parent with two children after my first wife and daughter were killed well over 40 years ago. And the fact of the matter is I was a US Senator, I was 29 years old. I was making $42,000 a year and I couldn’t afford help to take care of my kids while I worked. Thankfully, my mother, my sister gave up her job. My brother, they helped me raise my kids. It undermines financial security for women and families that hurts our entire economy when we lose the talent and hard work of so many people.
Joe Biden: (18:34)
In the American Rescue Plan you’ve heard so much about that we just passed, it was designed to address this core challenge. It puts money directly into the pockets of people who need it the most, $1,400 checks for 85% of American households. The hundredth million check has been deposited as of today and many more are on the way. It also expanded the child care tax credit. And here’s what that means for those of you who don’t know, right now, if you file for federal income tax, you get up to $2,000 credit for each child. But if you need help the most, if you’re making a minimum wage job and you don’t make enough to pay federal income tax, then you don’t get this credit. But because of the American Rescue Plan we passed, if you have two children under the age of six, for example, and you’re making $7.25 an hour, which is the minimum wage that so many people are making, you’ll get a check for $3,600 per child, or $7,200.
Joe Biden: (19:42)
Roughly, you get $500 a month. It’s mailed to you by the federal government. That’s life-changing. The American Rescue Plan is going to cut poverty across the board in America by about 31, and that’s a significant lift up for women. The law provides $360 billion for funding state and local governments. What that means is that’s going to prevent layoffs and jobs often held by women, nurses, teachers, healthcare workers, home health care aides, because the states have to balance their budget because they can, because of the lack of income coming in, without the help from the federal government that they’ll lay off those essential workers. And the law also includes $130 billion to reopen our school safely. $40 billion for investing in childcare investments. $160 billion to get the country vaccinated and beat this pandemic. All this is going to give millions of women, including many moms and dads too, the freedom to rejoin the workforce and make the career choices that are best for them and their families.
Joe Biden: (20:50)
But there’s so much more we need to do, so much more. We need the Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill will remove loopholes in the law allowing employers to justify gender pay disparities. It would help hold employers accountable for systemic pay discrimination. It would help level the playing field for women and people of color by making it easier for workers to challenge the disparities as a group. It would increase pay transparency. By that I mean, there’s a whole range of American corporations if you signed to Fortune 500, you sign up with them. It says in your contract, you can not reveal your salary to another employee. Why is that? They don’t want me sitting there saying, well, I’m making $60,000 with a woman doing the same job and she looks at you, “You’re making 60, I’m making 40.”
Joe Biden: (21:42)
They actually try to hide it. That’s what I mean by transparency. Some employers may not allow you to know, like I said, how much the person sitting next to you is making. Some may even discipline you for asking that. That has to change. Too often, secrecy is part of the problem. We know information is power. You can’t solve the problem if you don’t know you’re not getting paid fairly. My administration is going to fight for equal pay as it becomes a reality for all women. It’s about justice, it’s about fairness, it’s about living up to our values and who we are as a nation. Equal pay makes all of us stronger. It’s not just women who care about this. I’ve been around the country. I’ve gone right into union halls and asked the men in the room, “How would you feel if your wife or your sister didn’t earn the same amount of money as the man doing the same job next to you?”
Joe Biden: (22:41)
And you hear them respond, they don’t like it. Why? When your spouse or your sister is making the same amount of money the man she’s standing next to making, it means that when the hot water heater breaks, she can replace it. You get four new tires on the car. It means everybody’s life is made better in that family. Let me close with this, that to come out of this crisis and build back better, we need to erase the gender pay gap by ensuring that women have access to good paying jobs, by raising wages for working folks and fighting for the right to organize and collectively bargain, because we know unions lift women’s wages even more than they lift men’s. And by investing our care and our care infrastructure in paid leave, child care, home care, so that people can care for their families and also go to work.
Joe Biden: (23:40)
There’s a lot to do, but together we can ensure that our daughters have all the same rights and opportunities as our sons. And if we’re able to do this, it will be transformational for our nation. That’s the goal. That’s what this is all about. That’s what this team, all of you are all about. Let me make one more point. I’ve told my daughters, granddaughters, from the time were old enough to understand what I was saying, and I mean it, there’s not a single thing a man can do that a woman can’t do as well or better, not a single thing. I was among the first senators ever to appoint a woman to the Naval Academy. I was just able to, as president of United States, appoint two women as four-star generals, who now are combatant commanders. Three out of the six are combatant commanders and they’re women, women. There are so many, some in the Congress who were jet fighter pilots flying at twice the speed of sound. So many doing so much.
Joe Biden: (25:03)
But this soccer team, America’s team, has done more to lift up people’s sense of who they can be, particularly young girls and women, but anything has been done. So as president of the United States, I thank you. I thank you for the example you’ve set and for your willingness to say, look, we’re not going to take it anymore. We’re not going to take it. Figuratively speaking, you can take my trophies, but you can’t take my pride. As I said, my dad used to say, when he lost his job and had to get another one, we had to move. He’d say, “Joe, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity, it’s about respect, it’s about your sense of yourself and your self worth, it’s about your place in the community.” That’s what this is all about and that’s why you guys are leading the way.
Joe Biden: (26:02)
And now it’s my great pleasure and honor, and I’d like you to stand next to me if you would while I sign a proclamation making Equal Pay Day, naming it and expressing our commitment to seek equal pay as we build back better and restore this economic growth. Thank you folks. I’m going to sign it now. Come on up here [inaudible 00:26:22]. Title of the proclamation is, National Equal Pay Day, 2021.
Megan Rapinoe: (26:44)
[inaudible 00:26:44]. Just checking, making sure it says [inaudible 00:26:50].
Joe Biden: (26:50)
That’s what it says.
Megan Rapinoe: (26:53)
Joseph R. Biden.
Joe Biden: (26:54)
Megan Rapinoe: (26:54)
Joe Biden: (26:55)
My dad, a fine man. It says, equal pay is a reminder that work still remains to advance equality and ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Thank you guys. Thank you. Thanks, everybody.
Dr. Jill Biden: (27:16)
Megan Rapinoe: (27:16)
Joe Biden: (27:16)
[inaudible 00:27:16]. Aren’t they incredible? Have you ever watched them play? They are incredible.
Speaker 5: (27:57)
Are you preparing for the press conference tomorrow, sir?
Joe Biden: (27:58)
Speaker 5: (27:59)
Are you preparing for the press conference tomorrow?
Speaker 6: (28:00)
Ready for the press conference tomorrow, sir.