- By Kaili Berg and Elyse Wild
Native American Women's Equal Pay Day is a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggle for economic equality faced by Native American women.
Observed on November 30th each year, Native American Women's Equal Pay Day symbolizes the extra months and days Native American women must work into the year to earn the same wages their white male counterparts earned at the end of last year.
The gender and racial pay gap is a significant issue that affects Native American women. On average, Native American women earn only 55 cents for every dollar earned by white men, according to an analysis by the National Partnership for Women and Families. This wage disparity not only perpetuates economic inequality but also hampers the overall progress and well-being of Native American communities. Sixty-four percent of Native women are breadwinners for their families, according to the same analysis.
Various factors contribute to the pay gap experienced by Native American women. Discrimination plays a significant role in perpetuating this inequality. Biases in hiring, promotion, and salary negotiations limit the opportunities for Native American women to advance in careers and earn equal pay.
The lasting impacts of colonialism, genocide, and state-sanctioned violence in Native communities have contributed to limited access to quality education, job opportunities, and economic resources.
The pay gap is also not limited to just wages. Native American women also face disparities in benefits, such as healthcare and retirement plans. Despite facing some of the largest disparities in health outcomes, 21 percent of Native women are without health insurance.
The study by the National Partnership for Women and Families found that closing the pay gap for just one year would allow Native women would have enough money to finance 28 months of childcare, three years of tuition and fees for a four-year university, nearly two and a half years of food for a family, and more.
Addressing the pay gap requires collective action from individuals, organizations, and policymakers. The study features recommendations for employers to close the pay gap, such as creating leave policies with inclusive definitions of family and including part-time workers.
These policies support wage transparency, eliminating discriminatory pay practices and expanding protections against harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
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