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Patricia Arquette Lauds Pay Parity Progress, but Says More Work Needs to Be Done

Patricia Arquette has seen significant changes since using her 2014 Oscars acceptance speech as a platform to make a powerful call for wage parity, though the actress says the fight for gender equality is far from over.

Arquette says since her stirring plea, she is frequently approached by women who have gotten raises after their superiors admitted to not compensating them fairly.

“A lot of women came up to me and said, ‘Hey, my boss called me in and gave me a $10,000 check,’ and I said, ‘why?’ They said, ‘we weren’t paying you equally,'” Arquette recalled.

Though laws were passed to help aid in equal opportunity, it has yet to extend across all states.

“The states that need it most and have the biggest wage gap, like Alabama for instance, they have no pending legislation,” she told Variety at the New York premiere of Showtime’s “Escape at Dannemora” on Wednesday. “Part of how corporations and companies are getting away with wage inequality is by not reporting it. It [takes] forcing the company to be accountable to make it there.”

Since President Donald Trump has taken office, Arquette says “we’ve seen things roll back in every way of civil rights.” One piece of legislature she sees in need of attention is ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, which would legalize gender equality. It needs approval in 38 of the 50 states before it can be a proposed addition to the Constitution. So far, only 37 states have approved it.

“We need to ratify it in one more state and go to the House and Senate and try to get them to roll back the deadline that was imposed on that,” Arquette explained.

At the premiere of “Escape at Dannemora,” in which Arquette plays a prison worker who helps two inmates escape from New York’s largest maximum-security correctional facility, the actress also called for prison reform after seeing issues with the institution firsthand.

“I realized that [prison] is a real industry, and there are corporations making money off of this system,” Arquette said. “It’s a really terrifying place to be, both for prisoners and for guards. It’s a weird, symbiotic relationship where people have to make these alliances for survival sake.”

Arquette has long been a vocal advocate in the fight for gender quality and the pay gap between men and women. In her 2014 Academy Award speech she said, “To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

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