Identity

This Native Congressional Candidate Wants To See The End Of Racialized Wage Gaps

Deb Haaland
3 min read
September 27, 2018
This Native Congressional Candidate Wants To See The End Of Racialized Wage Gaps

As a single mom, I know the struggle of having to work twice as hard with fewer resources to support a child on my own.

While I wouldn’t change it for the world, I will acknowledge that I worked harder but still struggled to put food on the table, keep the lights on, purchase clothes for my daughter, and fill my car with gas so I could get to school and to work.

I made sure my daughter understood that as women, we have to fight for the things we believe, and we cannot ever give up.

Sadly, my story—and the experiences ofNative American women, who are paid only 57 cents for every dollar a white man makes— is not uncommon.

“It should not take nine months into a new year to finally reach what white men earned in 2017.”

It’s no surprise that a significant number of Native American women struggle to support their families. Nationwide, two out of three Native women are mothers, and are the primary breadwinners for their families. In New Mexico, theoverall female poverty rateis more than 22 percent and Native Americans are the most likely racial group to live in poverty, with34.45 percent living below the poverty level.

Furthermore, many of New Mexico’s Native communities are located inrural areas where employment prospects are dire. This forces many women, from those communities, to uproot their families and move to big cities like Albuquerque for better paying jobs.

This September 27, 2018, marks equal pay day for Native American women in the United States. Right now, Native American women earn only 57 percent of what white men earn. White women are paid about 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. It should not take nine months into a new year to finally reach what white men earned in 2017.

Consequently, Indigenous women carry the devastating burden of an unconscionable pay gap, and the financial insecurity that comes along with it.This also has serious implications for children and families across the country.

Native American women, and all women, deserve nothing less than pay equity. We have every right to economic equity. We have every right to thrive in the workplace. We have every right to economic opportunity.

“Native American women, and all women, deserve nothing less than pay equity.”

Any time any woman is not paid what she’s worth it is disturbing to me, especially because I have experienced it before.

Pay equality for Native American women is essential to gender equality. In fact, it’s an important pillar of the US economy where wealth gaps and income inequality are out of control. Women of color, women struggling to make ends meet, and women living in povertydisproportionately work in larger numbers of low-paying jobs, sometimes making only the minimum wage.The rich are getting richer, and working folks are only getting poorer.

Yet, women face the harsh reality of pay gaps, even worse for women of color, which hinders our ability to get ahead.If we want a strong and just democracy, we have to think and act to secure a bigger and brighter future for this generation of women, our families, and beyond.

We must stand up for policies that close gender-based and racialized pay gaps. We have to advocate for legislation that increases the minimum wage and protects women from discrimination, and sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.

We have to push for robust and inclusive paid family leave and sick leave policies. We also must increase budgets for public programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and ensure that radical policies don’t kick poor folks off of Medicaid.

Finally, we have to challenge the commitments of business elites, wealthy corporations, and elected officials to back Black, Latina, Indigenous, and disabled women, as well as women within the LGBTQ community—all of whom deserve equal pay for equal work.