Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic candidate for the White House, fired back Tuesday at critics who have accused her of playing the “gender card” when discussing pay parity.
“If talking about equal pay and paid leave and more opportunities for women and girls is playing the gender card, then deal me in,” she said to applause from the prominently female audience at an event in Times Square marking Equal Pay Day.
“There’s no discount for being a woman,” the former secretary of state added later of rent and groceries costs. “So why should we be paid less?”See alsoDelegate tracker2016 election2016 Voters Guide: What to know More coverageThe 2016 campaign: Complete coverage
Clinton, who would be the country’s first female president if elected, also called on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and support family leave.
She was a guest at a round-table hosted by Glassdoor, a Mill Valley, California-based recruiting company and pay transparency advocate. Research by Glassdoor shows the gender pay gap in the United States is 5.4 percent, after controls for education, work experience and other factors are applied.
Event participants included Megan Rapinoe, one of five U.S. women’s national soccer team members who filed a complaint against the U.S. Soccer Federation for compensating its World Cup-winning female athletes at lower rates than their less-successful male counterparts.
“We love shouldering that load,” Rapinoe, seated next to Clinton, said of the international attention the suit has drawn to the fight for fair and equal pay.
Clinton, in a nod to the labor rights “equal pay for equal work” slogan, said of the midfielder and the women’s team: “In America, we believe in equal pay for equal play, too.”
Beyond references to women and girls she has met as examples of those who struggled with or challenged pay gap programs, the former U.S. senator for New York did not detail her personal experience with the issue.
Tuesday was the anniversary of Clinton’s campaign launch. In one week, New Yorkers will cast their ballots in the state’s primary.
Clinton has a lead in the polls and in pledged delegates over her opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
She has a 14 percentage-point advantage in New York over Sanders, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll earlier this week.
Sanders on Tuesday was to campaign in upstate New York, holding town-hall meetings and rallies in Rochester, Syracuse and Poughkeepsie.
Clinton was to head later Tuesday to Palm Beach, Florida, for a fundraiser.