Bidens to Host Soccer Star Megan Rapinoe at Equal Pay Day Event



President Biden and Jill Biden, the first lady, will deliver remarks at an event on Wednesday that will outline the importance of equal pay after a year of millions of women leaving the work force because of the pandemic.

“This is personal to me, because it’s personal to all women,” Dr. Biden will say, according to prepared remarks published in Elle magazine before the event. “It’s one example of how we still treat women differently than men.”

Mr. Biden has sought to make equality a primary focus of his administration, partly through a $1.9 trillion relief package that targets underserved communities and seeks to provide money to families who have struggled to make ends meet. This month, he signed an executive order to reestablish a gender-focused policy council that had been dormant during the Trump administration.

Women earn about 80 percent of what men make, according to census data. Statistics from the Pew Research Center show that the gender pay gap has narrowed considerably over the past few decades, but that women — particularly women of color — still report a difference in earnings compared with white men.

The White House event is one of many recognizing Equal Pay Day, a symbolic marker created in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity, a coalition of civil rights groups. March 24 is the date in the new year when women catch up to the amount of money that men made in the previous year, according to the committee.

In an attempt to add star power to a policy discussion, the Bidens invited Megan Rapinoe of the United States women’s soccer team to participate in the event. Ms. Rapinoe, 35, is one of the most popular soccer stars in the world and has used her platform to call out pay disparities between male and female athletes.

In December, the United States Soccer Federation and its World Cup champion women’s team said they had reached an agreement over a wage-discrimination lawsuit, months after a federal judge dismissed claims that the female athletes were systematically underpaid.

Two years after Ms. Rapinoe publicly feuded with former President Donald J. Trump over whether she would visit the White House, she accepted the invitation from the Bidens.

Ms. Rapinoe is also outspoken on issues of racial justice: Her decision to kneel during the anthem in a show of support for the former N.F.L. player Colin Kaepernick put her, along with other athletes, in Mr. Trump’s cross hairs.

The running conflicts between the sports world and the Trump White House turned any decision for athletes to visit the White House into a cultural flash point, so her appearance with the Bidens on Wednesday was hardly an accidental course correction.

Before joining the Bidens, Ms. Rapinoe was scheduled to testify to the House Oversight Committee about the need to close gender-based pay gaps.

“The women’s national team has won four World Cup championships and four Olympic gold medals on behalf of our country,” she wrote in a prepared statement. “Yet despite all this, we are still paid less than men — for each trophy, each win, each tie, each time we play.”

If that can happen to women “with the brightest lights shining on us,” she added, it can happen to women in any industry.


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