WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, October 1, 2020, marks the date that Native women financially catch up to what their white male counterparts made in 2019. In the United States, it takes the average Native woman 22 months to make what the average white man makes over the course of one year. As NOW observes Native Women’s Equal Pay Day, we must address the ways in which Native women are continually disenfranchised by the gender pay gap as well as the ways in which they are systematically left behind, erased, and oppressed as a whole.
On average, Native women working full time make around $0.58 to white men’s dollars. Across the United States, however, many are making far less. In Delaware and California, they are being paid $0.50 or less for every dollar paid to white men, meaning it would take a Native woman living in Delaware 106 years to make what a white man in the state makes by age 60. In New Mexico and Texas, two states with some of the largest populations of Native people, they are making just $0.52 and $0.53 to white, non-Hispanic men’s dollars, respectively.
Beyond the negative impacts of this economic inequality, Native women continue to face a number of other crises as well. They are murdered at a rate 10 times the national average, experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and police brutality in what has been rightfully titled the “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Crisis.” While Congress just recently passed legislation in an attempt to aid this crisis, there is still much more to be done, and it’s important to recognize that violence against Native women and the pay disparities that they face are intrinsically linked.
The lasting impact of centuries of colonization and violence against Native people continues to demonstrate how the United States values Native women, but we know that they play a crucial role in their communities, and that their strength and cultures play a crucial role in the development of our nation as a whole. In our activism, we must focus on the ways in which Native women are uniquely impacted by the gender pay gap and organize in an effort to dismantle the systems that continue to violate and oppress them.
NOW urges our grassroots to mobilize not only in the name of pay equality for Native women, but in the name of ensuring that their lives, safety, and cultures are never devalued again.