The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Fighting Poverty

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SEATTLE, Washington — The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team has seen massive success in the past few seasons. But despite their widespread success, the team continues to face gender discrimination and unequal pay. As they advocate for change by embarking on lawsuits and campaigning for the fight against unequal pay, the team raises awareness for gender pay gaps on a global level as women continue to encounter poverty at a higher rate than men.

An Accomplished Team with Little Compensation

On July 7, 2019, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team won the FIFA Women’s World Cup, earning the team a total of four World Cup titles along with four Olympic Gold Medals. The U.S. Women’s National Team has not only achieved impressive wins, but they currently generate more revenue for the United States Soccer Federation than the men’s team. From 2016 to 2018, the women’s team generated $50.8 million compared to the $49.9 million the men’s team produced. However, players on the U.S. Women’s National Team are still paid significantly less than their male counterparts. The female players earn 89 cents to their male equivalent’s dollar while male players make nearly double when appearing at the World Cup.

On June 4, 2021, the LFG documentary was released, bringing attention to the issue of equal pay in women’s soccer once again. On April 12, 2021, a judge approved a settlement allowing the U.S. Women’s National team players to resume their legal battle for equal pay from the U.S. Soccer Federation. As these players continue to advocate for equal play on the field, they make strides for the women across the world living in poverty due to gender discrimination in the workplace.

Poverty and the Gender Pay Gap

Globally, women make 77 cents to every dollar earned by a man. The United Nations reports that this disparity accounts for a “lifetime of income inequality between men and women,” which results in women being impacted by poverty at a rate disproportional to that of men.

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres describes the gender pay gap as ‘“feed[ing]’” into other areas of inequality for women. Secretary Guterres states that because women’s jobs often do not come with health insurance or paid leave, ‘“lower salaries mean lower payments in their old age,’” even when women are entitled to pensions. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, equal pay would cut poverty for working women in half within the U.S. alone and add an estimated $512.6 billion in wage and salary income to the U.S. economy.

The U.N. reports that the gender pay gap exists across all countries, job sectors, education levels and ages. Furthermore, the U.N. reports that estimates of the gender pay gap “understate the real extent of the issue,” as information for informal economies composed mostly of women is underreported. The full picture, the U.N. describes, “is likely worse than what the available data shows.” As of September 18, 2020, UN Women reports that it would take 257 years to achieve “economic gender parity” at the current pace of improvement.

A Future of Hope Through Women’s Soccer

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team has paved the way for an equal pay movement through their legal battle and social media campaigns. As stated by Molly Levinson, the communications advisor for the players, “there’s so much riding on this, it’s become so much bigger than this group of players in this moment.” Megan Rapinoe, the iconic winger for the team and a well-known activist, said, “I think the story’s the same everywhere. Whether you’re an executive, whether you’re a domestic worker, whether you’re a soccer player. Women get paid less to do the same job.”

The team continues their fierce battle against gender discrimination through their now resumed legal fight, social media campaigns and recent documentary. From proclaiming Equal Pay Day with the White House to receiving hundreds of thousands of signatures on petitions for equal pay, these players continue to add fuel to their movement. As they continue their advocacy, the players of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team raise awareness and inspire action while they continue to fight to achieve equal pay for equal play.

Lillian Ellis
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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