On Equal Pay Day, President Obama to designate women's rights monument

As Americans mark Equal Pay Day on April 12, President Obama will designate the historic headquarters of the National Woman's Party as a national monument.

Jessica Hill/AP
A girl holds up a sign for equal pay for the US Women's National Team during the first half of an international friendly soccer match between the United States and Colombia on Wednesday, in East Hartford, Conn.

A new national monument is set to be unveiled today as President Obama seeks to bring increased attention to pay inequality in the United States.

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama will designate the iconic home and headquarters of the National Woman’s Party as a national monument to highlight the push for women's equality. The currently named Sewall-Belmont House and Museum in Washington, D.C., will become the new Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument.

Obama is scheduled to tour the site later on Tuesday. National Equal Pay Day was established on April 12 to illustrate how far into the calendar year a woman must work in order to earn as much as man earned the previous year. 

"[Tuesday's] designation will permanently protect one of the oldest standing houses near the U.S. Capitol and help preserve an extensive archival collection that documents the history, strategies, tactics and accomplishments of the movement to secure women’s suffrage and equal rights in the United States and across the globe,” the White House said Monday in a written statement.

The house to be designated as a national monument was built more than 200 years ago. In 1929, the National Woman’s Party bought it and converted it into the political party’s main headquarters. The party advocated for full political representation for women and equality, authoring more than 600 pieces of legislation on the federal, state, and local levels toward that end.

Specifically, the new monument will honor Alva Belmont and Alice Paul, both key members in the history of the National Woman’s Party. Belmont was a key benefactor for the party and served as its president while remaining an active suffragist. Paul founded the party and served as both a strategist and its president.

Paul and the National Woman’s Party played a key role in the fight for the 19th Amendment, which enabled women to vote, according to the White House press release. The 19th Amendment was passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920. Paul and the Party wrote several amendments that were included in the Civil Rights Act to prevent gender discrimination.

The party continues its work, but switched from a political organization to education in 1997. It seeks to raise public awareness around women's rights issues.

Obama has a history of using Equal Pay Day as the date of choice for enacting policies aimed at strengthening pay equality.

On Equal Pay Day 2014, the president issued an executive order that opened up the option to discuss pay with peers for federal contractors and requires federal contractors to report pay and demographic data about employees – intended to bring more transparency to pay passed on gender and race, The Christian Science Monitor reported.  

"The notion that we would somehow be keeping my daughters … any of your daughters out of opportunity, not allowing them to thrive in any field, not allowing them to fully participate in every human endeavor, that's counterproductive," Obama said in January.

This report includes material from The Associated Press.

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