Native Women’s Equal Pay Day raises awareness

October 1, 2020 is “Native Women’s Equal Pay Day,” a campaign centered on the gender pay gap for Native women. (Graphic courtesy of Native Women Lead)

Aliyah Chavez

Various organizations host virtual events Thursday centered on the gender pay gap for Native women

Aliyah Chavez
Indian Country Today

Thursday is observed by many policy makers, entrepreneurs and activists as “Native Women’s Equal Pay Day,” a campaign to raise awareness about the discrepancies in how much Native women are paid in comparison to others.

Data shows the discrepancy in pay for Native women is severe, ultimately resulting in the loss of more than a million dollars for Native women in comparison to White men.

According to data calculated by the National Women’s Law Center, a nonprofit organization advocating for gender justice, Native women are paid 57 cents for every dollar paid to a White man. Over a span of 40 years, this pay gap would result in a Native woman losing more than $1 million as compared to a White man.

At age 90, a Native woman would make the same career earnings that a White man makes at age 60, according to the data.

“All females are educated in my Diné family w/ degrees. It's a constant struggle to be recognized at work,” Lisa Tsosie, Diné, said on Twitter. “Even when you're a frontline worker. I watch many of my male coworkers move up in pay grades. Very slow advancement in pay being a Native woman.

“Women do not have equal opportunity to financial success due to workplace discrimination. In fact, Native women lose out on $1,035,360 over the course of their careers,” North Dakota State Rep. Ruth Buffalo said on Twitter. “On #NativeWomensEqualPay Day, we are calling for equal opportunity regardless of gender or race.”

Thursday presented an opportunity for various virtual events to address this pay gap, including panels and workshops.

Here are some events:

  • Negotiation workshop, hosted by Nadia De Ala
    • This workshop for women of color will teach immediate steps for clear compensation goals, negotiation and tips.
    • 2pm ET

Many of the organizers are also encouraging supporters to speak out on social media, and created social media tool kits with pre-made graphics, images and captions.

“It’s time to demand more, because Native and Indigenous women deserve more,” states the tool kit, created by a pair of nonprofit advocacy groups. The official hashtags for the event are #NativeWomensEqualPay and #EquityForNativeWomen.

Policy makers including former Vice President Joe Biden are speaking out about the day of observance. Biden cited the statistics, adding they are “unacceptable.”

“Native women should not have to work nine extra months into the year to earn what the average white man earned last year. They deserve better,” Biden said in a statement.

A leading group bringing awareness to Native Women’s Equal Pay Day is an organization co-founded by seven Native Women. Native Women Lead is a nonprofit whose mission is to empower and support Native women entrepreneurs.

It helped organize some of the virtual events happening Thursday.

(Related: Native women as community leaders, CEOs and drivers of Indigenous economies)

The National Committee on Equity Pay began a campaign called “Equal Pay Day,” in 1996, which has expanded to include separate days of observance for Black, Native and Latina women.

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Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at achavez@indiancountrytoday.com.

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