- Mónica Ramirez is an activist, attorney, and the founder of the nonprofit Justice For Migrant Women. She wrote the ”Dear Sisters” open letter to the women of Hollywood from farmworker women that sparked the TIME’S UP movement.
- Beatriz Acevedo is a leading Latina entrepreneur in the United States and president of the Acevedo Foundation, focused on providing access and opportunity to Latinx youth.
- They write that November 20 is Latina Equal Pay Day, the day that the average Latina worker’s earnings catch up to what white men were paid in 2018.
- Latinas are only growing as entrepreneurs and drivers of the economy, even while being held back by institutional systems and pay gaps.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
“The Future is Latina” is a phrase proudly and widely embraced. The reality is that Latinas are also the present.
We are building the foundation for the future economic health and success of the United States. Despite all of the ways that we are contributing to the economy and the overall well-being of the country, November 20th marks the day that we observe “Latina Equal Pay Day.” This is the day that the average Latina worker is just barely catching up to what white, non-hispanic men were paid in 2018. Yes, that’s right — it takes nearly one entire calendar year later.
Regardless of our occupation, educational attainment, age, or any other factor, Latinas are still lagging behind when it comes to closing this pay gap. There is a misconception that the only reason Latinas are experiencing this pay gap is because we work in lower paying positions or are less prepared. The truth is that no matter our job or preparation, we are still not being compensated equitably.
The consequences of this pay gap are considerable. It means that Latinx families have less money for food, rent, childcare, and medical costs, not to mention other critical expenses. Saving for our future and our children’s education becomes even more difficult.
Ultimately, this means that Latinas and their families have less overall financial stability. Despite the fact that we are doing the work, we are not being paid the full value of our work.
The 2017 National Women’s Law Center’s Poverty Snapshot found that 18% of Latinx women in the US live in poverty. Admittedly, a number of factors may compound and lead to poverty, but we cannot pretend that the underpayment of Latina workers — many of whom are heads of household — is not one of them. Ultimately, this situation has a direct impact on the experiences of Latinx children. NWLC’s poverty snapshot estimates that “one in four Latinx children live in poverty,” placing these children on an unlevel playing field from childhood.
Despite the vast underpayment and related challenges, Latinas are one of the most important consumer groups in our country. In 2013, Latinas made up 86% of spending decisions in our households. As of 2016, the Latinx community yielded 1.4 trillion dollars in buying power. Imagine the impact on our economy if the spending and consumer power of Latina workers was doubled. We could buy more homes, make more purchases, pay more income taxes, and help bolster the overall economic health of this country.
Latinas are building businesses and creating jobs. In fact, Latinas are one of the fastest growing groups of entrepreneurs in the country. According to a 2017 “State of Latino Entrepreneurship” Stanford report, “Latinas play a prominent role in Latino-owned business growth trends, having increased by 87% between 2007 and 2012. Latina-owned businesses represent nearly half of all Latino firms.”
Latina entrepreneurs face the challenge of receiving less investment funds than other entrepreneurs — even though we are opening more businesses than other community members. According to the Stanford Latino report, banks lend less money to Latino entrepreneurs, and Latinas face “funding ceilings” because of their gender and ethnic background. Regardless, we continue to start businesses and other entities that provide jobs, revenue, and tax dollars to the local economies where we live — and to the nation as a whole.
Latinas prove time and again that even when we confront barriers, inferior investment, systemic and institutional racism, and other challenges, we continue to rise, to build, and to thrive. A 2017 Nielsen article calls the force Latinas are exhibiting “Latina ascent.”
Imagine what more we could do, how much more we could contribute, how many more jobs we could create, and how much brighter our future would be if employers, investors, lawmakers, and other community leaders fully understood that Latinas are our present and the future of this nation. In order to reach our full potential, Latinas require equal pay and equal opportunities — for the sake of Latina workers and entrepreneurs, as well as for the sake of this country.
Mónica Ramirez is an activist, attorney, and the founder of the nonprofit Justice For Migrant Women. For over two decades, she has fought for the civil and human rights of women, children, workers, Latinos/as, and immigrants. You may know Mónica as the woman who wrote the ”Dear Sisters” open letter to the women of Hollywood from farmworker women that sparked the TIME’S UP movement. Most recently, she organized the “Querida Familia” letter that appeared in the New York Times with 200 artists, activists, labor, and civil rights leaders signing to support a letter of love and solidarity to the Latino community following the El Paso shooting and ICE Raids this August. As part of her work with Justice for Migrant Women, just this year Mónica worked alongside leaders in Washington to introduce numerous pieces of legislation (among them the BE HEARD Act and The CARE Act) and was awarded the 2019 MAFO Lifetime Achievement Award.
Beatriz Acevedo is one of the leading inspirational voices and Latina entrepreneurs in the United States. She has dedicated her career to influence authentic and positive depictions of Latinos in society. Beatriz is a passionate and sought after speaker who enjoys insightful discussions around diversity as good ROI, female leadership, and the impact of Latinos in America. She is the president of the Acevedo Foundation, focused on providing access and opportunity to Latinx youth.
This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author(s).