Patricia Arquette just took her fight for equal pay up a notch

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Patricia Arquette catapulted the gender pay gap to the forefront of public attention when she delivered her powerful Oscar acceptance speech in 2015.

Now, Arquette is bringing the fight for pay equality centre stage once again as she launches a new initiative with UN Women, championing the need to support women's economic empowerment.

Arquette told Mashable why she chose to speak out about the issue of pay inequality after winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Olivia Evans in Boyhood.

"I was winning that award for the part of a single mom who was the primary breadwinner and caretaker for her kids and I thought about how different her life would have been had she actually been paid her full dollar," said Arquette.

"I never expected to win an Oscar so, when I did, I wanted to do something important to help other people," she continued.

Arquette says she thinks every woman knows there's a pay gap and she believes it's important to talk about it. But, in addition to opening up a conversation about it, she also wants to see tangible action to redress the persistent pay imbalance. She believes America — where women earn approximately 78 cents for every dollar a man earns — needs stronger pay laws, and that the public should put pressure on the government to make this a priority.

This starts with introducing a "true living wage", says Arquette. "Not a minimum wage, [which is the] minimum to survive in deep poverty while you're working. We need an actual living wage because the majority of low-income, minimum wage workers are women and many of them have children to feed." Research published by MIT echoes Arquette's statement. According to MIT, America's minimum wage does not provide a living wage for most American families and "fails to approximate the basic expenses of families."

RELATED: Gender pay gap numbers state to state:

51 PHOTOS
Gender pay gap state to state ranking
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Gender pay gap state to state ranking

51. Louisiana 

Gender pay gap: 34.7%

(Ian Dagnall / Alamy)

50. Utah 

Gender pay gap: 32.4%

(CountyLemonade/Flickr)

49. Wyoming 

Gender pay gap: 31.2% 

(Philip Scalia / Alamy)

48. West Virginia

Gender pay gap: 30%

(J. Stephen Conn/Flickr)

47. North Dakota

Gender pay gap: 28.7%

(Tim Evanson/Flickr)

46. Alabama

Gender pay gap: 27.4%

(Danny Hooks / Alamy)

45. Idaho

Gender pay gap: 27.2%

(Philip Scalia / Alamy)

44. Oklahoma

Gender pay gap: 26.5%

(thefixer/Flickr)

43. Montana

Gender pay gap: 25.8%

(John Elk III / Alamy)

42. Michigan

Gender pay gap: 25.5%

(curiousjohn/Flickr)

41. Indiana

Gender pay gap: 24.8%

(ellenm1/Flickr)

40. New Hampshire

Gender pay gap: 24.3%

(cmh2315fl/Flickr)

39. South Dakota

Gender pay gap: 23.8%

(SuperStock / Alamy)

38. Mississippi

Gender pay gap: 23%

(Don Smetzer / Alamy)

37. Kansas

Gender pay gap: 23%

(Jim West / Alamy)

35. Iowa

Gender pay gap: 22.7%

(Ellen Isaacs / Alamy) 

34. Missouri

Gender pay gap: 22.6%

(L. Allen Brewer/Flickr)

33. Ohio

Gender pay gap: 22.2%

(sailwings/Flickr)

32. New Mexico

Gender pay gap: 21.9%

(Patrick Ray Dunn / Alamy)

31. Arkansas

Gender pay gap: 21.8%

(Buddy Mays / Alamy)

30. Texas

Gender pay gap: 21.2%

(Ian Dagnall / Alamy)

29.  Maine

Gender pay gap: 21.2%

(PHOTOPHANATIC1/Flickr)

28. Nebraska

Gender pay gap: 21.1%

(Ian G Dagnall / Alamy)

27. Wisconsin 

Gender pay gap: 21.1%

(Jeff Greenberg 5 / Alamy)

26. Illinois

Gender pay gap: 20.9%

(incamerastock / Alamy)

25. Pennsylvania

Gender pay gap: 20.8%

(dannyfowler/Flickr)

24. Kentucky

Gender pay gap: 20.1%

(toddmundt/Flickr)

23. Virginia

Gender pay gap: 19.8%

(JoeDuck/Flickr)

22. South Carolina

Gender pay gap: 19.8%

(Ellisphotos / Alamy)

21. New Jersey 

Gender pay gap: 19.7%

(Robert Quinlan / Alamy)

20. Alaska

Gender pay gap: 19.2%

(retro traveler/Flickr)

19. Delaware

Gender pay gap: 19.0%

(J. Stephen Conn/Flickr)

18. Tennessee

Gender pay gap: 18.5%

(Jim Nix / Nomadic Pursuits/Flickr)

17. Minnesota

Gender pay gap: 18.4%

(kla4067/Flickr)

16. Rhode Island

Gender pay gap: 18.3%

(Dougtone/Flickr)

15. Georgia 

Gender pay gap: 18.2%

(Ian Dagnall Commercial Collection / Alamy)

14. Colorado 

Gender pay gap: 18.1%

(Jesse Varner/Flickr)

13. Massachusetts

Gender pay gap: 18.0%

(Manu_H/Flickr)

11. Connecticut

Gender pay gap: 17.4%

(Dougtone/Flickr)

10. Vermont

Gender pay gap: 16.2%

(pthread1981/Flickr)

9.  Arizona

Gender pay gap: 15.9%

(Photoshot Holdings Ltd / Alamy)

8. California

Gender pay gap: 15.8%

(Robert Landau / Alamy)

7. North Carolina

Gender pay gap: 15.3%

(sevenblock/Flickr)

6. Florida

Gender pay gap: 15.1%

(FL Stock / Alamy)

5. Nevada

Gender pay gap: 14.9%

(D-Stanley/Flickr)

4. Maryland

Gender pay gap: 14.6%

(tim caynes/Flickr)

3. Hawaii

Gender pay gap: 14.1%

(Mauro Ladu / Alamy)

2. New York

Gender pay gap: 13.2%

(drpavloff/Flickr)

1. Washington D.C.

Gender pay gap: 10.4%

(Alexandre Deslongchamps via Getty Images)

Puerto Rico has the smallest gender pay gap, and it benefits women. 

Gender pay gap: -4.6% -- Women earn more than men by a small margin

(Fuse via Getty Images)

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Arquette says she's determined to shed light on this "entrenched form of discrimination" and to help put an end to the gender pay gap. She launched the UN's Equal Pay Platform of Champions on Monday, bringing together a group of high-profile advocates — including filmmakers, government leaders and soccer player Abby Wambach — to bring the issue of pay inequality to policymaker's doorsteps. She — along with others involved in the initiative — will call on increased political support for the issue in an effort to bring about decisive action.

Arquette kicked off the initiative on Monday with UN Women's latest online campaign #StopTheRobbery, which invited people to share tweets, of which 23 percent of the characters are blacked out in recognition of the 23 percent global gender pay gap.

Those wanting to share a blacked-out tweet can visit the Stop The Robbery website.

"In all fields, at all levels of society, and across all countries, wage inequalities between men and women is a blatant reality which impacts the lives of many. How much longer are we going to allow it?"

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