It’s a well-known, if infuriating, fact that in 2016, women of all backgrounds are still paid significantly less than men for their work. But less discussed are the ways in which the gender pay gap for Latina women—who face not only sexism but also entrenched racism—is especially egregious, with Latina workers making just 54 cents for every dollar earned by white men. November 1 is Latina Equal Pay Day, the day when Latinas’ earnings catch up to what a white man made the previous year.
That’s right: Latinas have to work almost an entire second year to match what white men made in one.
With the election just days away, we have one presidential candidate who understands the significance and urgency of this issue, and another who dismisses it as a problem created by women themselves. When we cast our votes this year, we have the opportunity to set the stage to finally address this injustice.
Hillary Clinton has been a vocal advocate for pay equity for many years. She sponsored multiple fair pay measures, including the Paycheck Fairness Act. She elevated the issue in the presidential debates and has laid out a plan to take on the gender pay gap, committing to “ use every tool” to fight it.
Clinton stands in stark contrast to Donald Trump, who thinks the answer to the pay gap is that women should “ do as good a job” as men. This ludicrous response ignores the reality that women, especially women of color, don’t just do “as good a job” as men: we have to work harder just to have our work taken seriously. The GOP platform includes no proposed solutions to the wage gap, and the fact that Trump’s campaign has paid the women on staff significantly less than the men indicates just how seriously he takes the issue.
But for the future of equal pay, it’s not just about who’s in the White House. Time after time, Republicans in Congress have blocked proposals to address the pay gap, putting partisanship above the wellbeing of working women across the country. Making progress on women’s equality measures depends both on electing a president committed to these issues and on electing Democrats who will support them to Congress.
For the millions of women struggling to make ends meet, putting these issues at the top of the political agenda can’t wait. According to 2015 data from the National Partnership for Women and Families, there are close to three million Latina-headed households in our country, 40% of which live below the poverty line. If the wage gap were closed, a Latina employed full-time would—on average—make enough for close to 200 more weeks of food, over 12,000 more gallons of gas, and almost 27 more months of rent payments. Anyone who has ever felt the panic of not being able to pay rent, a medical bill, or any unexpected expense understands the acute impact this loss of wages has in real people’s lives.
We need a president and a Congress who understands this—that’s why it’s so important we vote for elected officials up and down the ballot who will truly champion the push for pay equity.
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