US soccer star Megan Rapinoe brought her high-profile fight for women’s equality to Washington Wednesday, testifying before Congress and joining President Joe Biden at a White House event urging an end to the gender pay gap.
The events occurred on Equal Pay Day, which marks the extra weeks and months which American women — who currently average just 82 cents for every dollar earned by men — must work to earn the same that their male counterparts made in the previous year.
“I know there are millions of people who are marginalized by gender in the world and experience the same thing in their jobs,” Rapinoe said at the White House alongside Biden, First Lady Jill Biden and rising soccer star Margaret Purce. “And I and my teammates are here for them.”
Rapinoe is a two-time World Cup champion who has been the face of American women’s soccer for nearly a decade.
“Despite those wins, I’ve been devalued, disrespected and dismissed because I’m a woman,” the pink-haired 35-year-old said. “Despite all the wins, I’m still paid less than men who do the same job that I do.”
US Soccer reached a deal in December with members of its women’s team on working conditions, but a lawsuit over equal pay claims remains outstanding.
But Rapinoe, mindful of the devastating toll that the coronavirus pandemic has had on women in the US work force, said she and other famous athlete-activists are “looking to carry this torch for so many other women” who toil out of the bright camera lights.
“One cannot simply outperform inequality, or be excellent enough to escape discrimination of any kind,” she told a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing. “I’m here today because I know firsthand that this is true.”
At the White House, Biden hailed the women’s national soccer team as “heroes” and pledged his administration “is going to fight for equal pay (to) become a reality for all women.”