It is no secret that women are paid less than men. Every year Equal Pay Day draws attention to the pay gap that continues to exist in America. The day represents how far womxn collectively must work into the next year to earn what their male counterparts earned in the previous year. This year Equal Pay Day was March 31, 2020.
Although, womxn of all races face an inequitable wage gap, Black, Indigenous, and Latinx womxn experience a wider gap. Nearly five months after Equal Pay Day, we were finally able to mark Black Womxns’ Equal Pay Day on August 22nd. These additional 5 months represent the time that the average Black womxn must work in order to earn what their average white male counterpart earned the previous year. For Indigenous and Latinx womxn, Equal Pay Day is even farther away on October 1, 2020 and October 29, 2020 respectively. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this wage gap and exposed other gaps as well.
Black, Indigenous, and Latinx womxn have been disproportionately affected by both the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. Specifically, more than 1 in 3 Black womxn provide essential public services in front-line jobs such as nursing assistants, home health aides, and grocery store staff, and therefore, are more likely to face a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 at their workplaces. Additionally, Black womxn not employed in essential roles are more likely to work in industries that have laid off massive numbers of employees due to COVID-19 and may need months or years to resume normal operations, leaving these womxn economically vulnerable. These industries include restaurants, retail, hotel, education, and cosmetology. Womxn of color overall are also more likely to be impacted by an increase in family caregiving pressures as they are more likely to be both caregivers and daily essential workers.
With the wage gap magnified under COVID-19, direct attention must be given to racial and gendered pay inequities as we begin to move towards economic recovery. In preparation, this means more white allies advocating for Black, Indigenous, and Latinx womxn to be prioritized both during and after recovery, and granted access to build economic wealth and long-term prosperity in this nation. Advocacy for fair pay protection, higher minimum wages, and access to low to no-cost childcare are essential to closing the wage gap for Black, Indigenous, and Latinx womxn.
As we lay out these hard truths about the disparities and inequities persistent in our wage system, we must ask what does Equal Pay Day really mean for every womxn? And why are these days of dedication so drastically far apart? We ask that our readers consider these questions and support economic wage justice for Black, Indigenous, and Latinx womxn. To take action, check out http://www.equalpaytoday.org/
– National Women’s Law Center, “It’s 2020 and Black Women Aren’t Even Close to Equal Pay”
– Equal Pay Today, “2020 Equal Pay Days”