Native American women have one of the largest wage gaps in the country, earning approximately 51 cents per dollar paid to the average white man. This gap can lead to losses of over $1.1 million over a 40-year career compared with non-Latino white men.
While it would take almost a full additional year to catch up on earnings, Native Women’s Equal Pay Day is being observed on Nov. 30, the last day of Native American Heritage Month.
“We know that there’s historic barriers to economic opportunity for Native women, and they just get compounded when it comes to pay,” Noreen Farrell, director of Equal Rights Advocates, told The 19th. “There’s a lack of affordable health are access, equity, reproductive healthcare access and a lack of food sovereignty for Native American women. And all of these things come in a perfect storm when there isn’t enough money in the paycheck.”
This wage gap does more than severely limit the economic stability for Native women—it perpetuates the longstanding impacts of colonialism and state-sanctioned violence on Native and Indigenous communities throughout U.S. history.
Equity for Native women means listening to the needs and demands of Native communities for respect of sovereignty, ceremony and culture. It means raising awareness and seeking justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women (#MMIW). And it also means honoring and uplifting the existence of two-spirit and transgender Native people in a world that struggles to see beyond the gender binary.
At 51 cents on the dollar for white men, the average Native woman must work twice as hard, so we need to be twice as determined to close the gender and race-based wage gap.
Take Action for Native Women
- Raise awareness on social media for Native Women’s Equal Pay Day, using the hashtags #EquityForNativeWomen on #NativeWomensEqualPay.
- Honor the sacred land you’re living on by using this digital map, and learn how to pronounce the name correctly. (YouTube can help!)
- Listen to and follow Native-led organizations that are doing work on the ground such as Return to the Heart Foundation, Native Women Lead or Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women.
Equal Pay for All Women
Equal Rights Advocates calculate that for each $1 a white man earns:
- Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women earn 75 cents. In 2022, their Equal Pay Day was May 3.
- Black women earn 58 cents. Their Equal Pay Day was Sept. 21, 2022.
- Native American women earn 50 cents, marking Equal Pay Day on Nov. 30.
- Latinas earn 49 cents, and this year their Equal Pay Day is Dec. 8—almost a whole calendar year behind their counterparts.
This piece was originally published by Equal Rights Advocates.
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