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Sep 22, 2022

Councilwoman Stephanie Howse hosted a Facebook Live with Cleveland City Council Chief Financial Officer Va’Keida Stiggers to discuss Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is the approximate day a Black woman must work into the new year to make what a white, non-Hispanic man made at the end of the previous year. That date was September 21st - meaning black women, on average, had to work an additional 264 days to match the earnings of what white men made on average in 2021. 

Chief Stiggers has worked for the City for twenty-three years, nineteen in the Finance Department. In Finance, she gained experience in accounting,  financial reporting, and control & information technology. She has served Council since 2018 as the Chief Financial Officer. Chief Stiggers is well-versed in finance and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the conversation with Councilwoman Howse. 

Black Women's Equal Pay Day is not a cause for celebration. It is a time for action and awareness. Cleveland City Council is taking steps to bring awareness to the issue and make the city a more fair, equitable place for black women and girls - who represent 28% of Cleveland’s population. Councilwoman Howse’s Facebook Live was just one example of their work.

Councilwomen Deborah Gray (ward 4) and Stephanie Howse (ward 7) cosponsored legislation to create the Black Women and Girls Commission in Spring 2022. The Commission’s mission is to improve the quality of life for women and girls by advocating, initiating, and championing programs and legislation to strengthen families and communities. The vision is simple—women and girls in the City of Cleveland deserve access to unlimited opportunities to achieve social, health, and economic equality. 

Council issued a resolution at the September 19 meeting acknowledging Black Womens Equal Pay Day and the work needed to close the gap. The resolution notes that if black women were paid equally, their families would have enough money for approximately: 

  1. over 2 ½ years of child care 
  2. more than 2 ½ additional years of tuition and fees for a 4-year public university or 
  3. the full cost of tuition and fees for a 2-year community college
  4. almost 16 more months of premiums for employer-based health insurance
  5. 174 more weeks (more than 3 years’ worth) of food
  6. 15 additional months of mortgage and utilities payments
  7. more than 22 more months of rent
  8. enough to pay off the average student loan debt in 1 ½ years; 

Closing this pay gap improves our city’s economy and our residents’ quality of life. It’s vital to Cleveland’s sustainability. 

To view Councilwoman Howse’s Facebook Live with Chief Stiggers, click here.