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NOLA Women to Celebrate Their Power on Equal Pay Day

Tuesday, April 4th is Equal Pay Day, the symbolic day when women have finally caught up in salary to what men earned the previous year. In the over half-century since the Equal Pay Act went into effect, little progress has been made to close the gender wage gap in America. In fact, recent reports have projected that the gap will not close until 2115 in Louisiana, one of four states expected to have a pay gap into the 22nd century. 


The New Orleans Chamber of Commerce teamed up with local nonprofit FestiGals and the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) Crescent City Connections to host The Power of YOU: Advocate for Your Success. The event will bring together dozens of female leaders and entrepreneurs from the New Orleans area to educate and empower each other. 


“Our motto is to inspire, connect, and celebrate women,” said FestiGals founder Diane Lyons. “Events like what we’re doing on Equal Pay Day enable women to be who they are and who they can be - both personally and professionally.” 


The event will feature a panel-type discussion of twenty local female business leaders, or "success experts," representing a variety of professional backgrounds. Attendees will have the chance for short “mentoring sessions,” Lyons said, but the event is by no means a simple networking opportunity. 


Louisiana State Representative Helena Moreno, who last month announced her candidacy for a New Orleans City Council at-large seat, will be the keynote speaker at The Power of YOU. Moreno will educate the crowd about her sponsored bill to close the gender wage gap in Louisiana, as well as legislations to aid victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. 


Moreno is also the founder of the Ignite for Change advocacy network, which is dedicated to advancing policies to help women and their families, focusing on the quality of life regarding employment, pay, health and wellbeing, educational opportunities, and violence prevention.


The interconnectedness of these women’s issues is greatly important to the team behind The Power of YOU. “Women are gifted, yet we have a tendency to undervalue it,” explained Lyons. “That goes for the professional world, that goes for family life. That sort of thinking invades your life, and it’s false.” 


In Louisiana, women make on average 68 cents to every dollar earned by men. Despite the Lean In efforts of Moreno and the twin successes of the Women’s March and A Day Without A Woman in New Orleans, no political change is on the horizon. FestiGals’ Staff Liaison Sandra Dartus noted that although it will take time for legislations to go into effect to close the gender gap in Louisiana, women have power to assert their worth and spark change on a grassroots level. 


“We’re of a baby boomer generation, but it’s better now,” said Dartus, relating her and Lyons's experiences. “For our generation, it is about relearning our value. For younger generations, it is more a matter of educating them about the scope of their power. Being able to tell someone who you are, what you do, what are your strengths — and to say it with authority." 


The Power of YOU will be held at The Cannery on Tuesday (4.4) from 5:30PM-7:30PM. Attendees are encouraged to wear red to connote that half of the population is still “in the red” when it comes to equal pay. 


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