Working Women: Please Read Gina Rodriguez's Powerful Essay on Equal Pay

For Equal Pay Day, actress and philanthropist Gina Rodriguez teamed up with LUNA Bar to raise awareness for the gender wage gap. Here, she gets candid about the inequalities women face and what’s necessary to effect change. 

Gina Rodriguez - Lead
Photo: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

As a little girl, my father instilled in me an important mantra: “I can and I will.” As Latina woman growing up in a low-income part of Chicago, there were challenges and limitations everywhere. My father’s powerful refrain helped me to push past challenges, ask for more, and create change. It’s this drive that energizes me to take a stand with LUNA to champion women, and demand equality. We are raising awareness for one of the most longstanding inequalities facing women: the gender pay gap. Together, we CAN and WILL champion change.

On average, there is a 20 percent pay gap that women face for doing the same job compared to their male counterparts—a gap that often grows larger for different ethnicities. To me, equal pay isn’t just about a dollar amount. It’s about knowing what you’re worth and a strength in knowing what you deserve. It’s about fairly and equally recognizing hard work and talent, no matter gender, ethnicity or religion. Equal pay is necessary because it tells women that they are valued, they are capable and they will be treated like anyone else doing the exact same job.

You can’t be what you can’t see, which is why I want to be a role model for girls demonstrating for them that they can do it. My hope is that they see a reflection of themselves in me and other female role models, and that they see themselves on TV and movie screens, billboards, and magazines. I want to be part of spreading the knowledge that girls CAN and WILL be CEOs, entrepreneurs, coders, athletes, and hold the lead role on a TV show. I want them to know that they can direct instead of taking direction. The more we show women in these roles, the more we empower girls and women to take action.

I partnered with LUNA because I strongly believe in their commitment to champion all women to push these boundaries, to never settle and to raise our collective voices to support equal pay for equal work. We will encourage women to breakthrough and use their voices to seek their best selves, to push, to defy, and to demand more. To help raise awareness for the gender pay gap, all LUNA bars sold on will be discounted 20 percent to represent the gender pay gap. For each bar purchased, LUNA will match the 20 percent discount with a donation, of up to $100,000, to fund salary negotiation workshops in partnership with the AAUW and Lean In’s #20PercentCounts campaign.

But our work doesn’t end here, we must continue to champion and support women in our daily lives. This past year I was fortunate enough to be a part of a group of individuals that brought to life Young Women Honor’s, an evening dedicated to honoring incredible, strong females who are breaking barriers and shattering stereotypes. Starting as young as 19, the honorees blew me away with their determination, passion, and unwavering commitment to their crafts. It was incredibly humbling to be surrounded by such kickass women of all ages who owned who they are and what they do.

I believe there are small acts we can all take every day to help champion equality and support one other. One way is to use your social channels to raise your voice. For example, I participate in #MovementMondays, where I spotlight inspiring, diverse artists who are bringing their unique talents and perspectives to the field of entertainment. There are so many worthwhile causes out there, and if I can make even one person feel appreciated and valued, then I know I’m using my voice for good. We all have the power to uplift and support one another, so what are you waiting for?

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