Today is Equal Pay Day, the day that symbolizes how far into the current year that women, on average need to work to make what men made in the previous year. Equal pay seems like a no-brainer. Why should someone be paid less for the same job solely based on gender? As it turns out, there are hidden costs, beyond our bank accounts, that make equal pay even more important.

According to the Department of Labor, a woman has to work over 2,400 days more than a man during a 40 year career just to equal his earnings. So what is a woman to do? This gap leads to women working longer hours, or more than one job, or farther into retirement. Add to this that women typically spend more hours on childcare, cooking, and cleaning. What impact is this having on our physical and emotional health?

We try to squeeze more in to every hour. Our stress levels rise. And we have less time for self care. Maybe then we spend more on sleep aides or headache medicine, further cutting into our bank accounts. We feel devalued in comparison to our male peers and our productivity falters. There are so many ways, in addition to financially, that the pay gap impacts women. And equal pay is not a panacea, for all in the workforce we also need paid sick leave, paid family leave, and childcare subsidies. To truly harness the power of our workforce, we need to embrace financial equity as well as promoting physical and emotional health.

Equal pay isn’t just a women’s issue: when women get equal pay, their family incomes rise and the whole family benefits. – Mike Honda