Today is Equal Pay Day. This represents how far into 2016 a woman would have to work to earn what a man got paid in 2015 alone. On average, American women earn 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. The gender pay gap is real and it has consequences throughout a woman’s life, including in her retirement.

For many women, retirement is a struggle. Women live longer than men, but also have less in retirement savings; therefore, whatever savings they do have has to last longer. A recent report by the National Institute for Retirement Security found that women are 80 percent more likely to be in poverty in retirement than a man is.

The numbers on women and retirement are pretty scary:

  • Women earn a third less in retirement income from a pension than men do
  • For those workers with 401(k)-style accounts, the median account balance for women was a third less than for men. That median amount for women is $24,446- not nearly enough to provide income for an entire retirement!
  • Women also face barriers to participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans because they are more likely to work part-time or leave the workforce for caretaking duties. Often these departures from the full-time workforce exclude them from participating in the employer’s retirement plan.

Despite those bleak numbers, there is some good news. Women who work in fields like healthcare or education, where defined benefit pensions are more common, have higher incomes in retirement and lower poverty rates than other women. This is a clear call for states and cities to maintain their public pension systems. Eliminating pensions and moving to 401(k)-style defined contribution plans would only increase the number of retired women in poverty.

The U.S. must continue to push for equal pay for equal work, but we must also increase opportunities for women to prepare for retirement by protecting defined benefit pensions and increasing access to retirement savings plans.