Kolby KickingWoman
Indian Country Today

Sixty cents on the dollar.

That’s what Native women earn compared to White, non-Hispanic men based on 2019 data, according to the Equal Pay Today campaign.

September 8 is Native Women’s Equal Pay Day. Based on the aforementioned numbers, it is the date Native women must work up until to make what White, non-Hispanic men made at the end of last year.

Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison, along with the committee’s Native American Caucus chair and vice-chair Rion Ramiriez, Turtle Mountain Chippewa and Pascua Yaqui, and Paulette Jordan, Coeur d'Alene, released a statement saying the Biden administration has prioritized ending the gender pay gap and no American should find the disparity acceptable.

“Today marks another day that Native American women are paid just $0.60 for every dollar earned by a White, non-Hispanic man,” the statement reads. “While $0.40 today doesn’t buy a bus ticket, over a 40-year career it amounts to nearly $1 million in lost wages - but it also amounts to the devaluation of Native American women’s contributions to our country that no American should find acceptable.”

For Native mothers, the gap becomes worse, earning just 50 cents on the dollar compared to White, non-Hispanic fathers.

Kansas Rep. Sharice Davids, Ho-Chunk, and New Mexico Rep. Melanie Stansbury, wrote in Ms. Magazine that paying all women equally would cut poverty for working women in half, add billions of dollars to the gross domestic product and urged all to continue to call out unfair compensation.

“We will not rest until Native Women’s Equal Pay Day no longer exists because equal pay for equal work becomes a reality for all Americans,” the pair wrote. 

The wage gap also exists for Native women with an advanced higher education degree. A Native woman with a master’s earns approximately the same as a White man with an associate’s degree, around $52,000, according to the National Women’s Law Center.

Raising awareness across social media, Native and non-Native advocates and organizations publicized their support using the hashtag, #NativeWomensEqualPay.

To address the pay gap for Native women, through their statement, the DNC said the Biden administration has pushed to ensure Native women have a voice and representation at every table; including the president’s cabinet with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo.

Through the Infrastructure Deal, the committee says investing in electricity, water, transportation and more on tribal lands will both support Native women and tribes at large .

“Native American women are essential to the fabric of our country’s values and success, and the Democratic Party is committed to ensuring their contributions to our economy and our nation are met with the full value and respect they are due,” the statement said.

Sara Alcid, senior campaign director of the Workplace Justice of MomsRising, the online and on-the-ground organization of more than 1 million mothers and their families, had more pointed and concrete examples of how to end the wage gap.

She called on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, raising the minimum wage to $15, as well as universal child care and paid family and medical leave.

“No one should ever be shortchanged on her paycheck due to her gender or race,” Alcid said. “We will continue to fight until we build an economy of shared prosperity that works for all of us.”

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