Due to Wage Gap, Women—and Especially Women of Color—Are Economically Vulnerable During COVID-19 Crisis
CHICAGO – The COVID-19 crisis is exposing huge gaps in our social safety net, and in this crisis, the persistent gender wage gap means that women, and especially women of color, are less likely to have the financial resources to weather the storm, and are therefore more at risk. While on average, women earn 82 cents for every dollar white men earn, women of color routinely experience much wider wage gaps due to the compounding effects of gender and racial discrimination. Black women make an average of 62 cents to a white man’s dollar. Native women make 57 cents. Latinas make just 54 cents. Asian American and Pacific Islander women make an average of 90 cents, but some ethnic subgroups make as little as 50 cents.
Today, March 31st, is Equal Pay Day, the day that marks the average wage gap for women. Since 2010, the Equal Pay Day Chicago coalition has organized rallies for equal pay, and traditionally that would have happened today. But even before this crisis, the coalition decided it was time to shift the conversation and center the experiences of women of color who often experience much wider gaps. That’s why this year, we will gather for an equal pay rally on October 29th, Latina Equal Pay Day, which is the last equal pay day observed in 2020.
“Ten years ago, I started the Equal Pay Day Chicago coalition, and we have grown to over 70 organizations, businesses and government agencies,” said Barb Yong of Golan Christie Taglia LLP, chair of the Equal Pay Day Chicago coalition. “Now, it is time for us to go deeper. We call on the rest of the country to follow Chicago’s lead, to focus on the largest gap instead of the average.”
“When we discuss the gender wage gap, it is important to recognize the true barriers Latinas face,” said Linda Xóchitl Tortolero, President & CEO of Mujeres Latinas en Acción. “By rallying on Latina Equal Pay Day, we put the experiences of women of color at the forefront. Every woman deserves a fighting chance to help their families thrive—something that’s been made even more clear during this unprecedented public health emergency.”
“Nationally, 71 percent of households with children rely on women’s income for their economic well-being, and so many of the people on the front lines of this coronavirus crisis are women—, disproportionately black and brown women,” said Cherita Ellens, CEO of Women Employed. “They are healthcare workers, grocery clerks, cleaners, child care providers, food service workers, and caregivers. Their jobs are low paid, and many don’t have access to paid sick time or paid family and medical leave. In this moment, we have the power to act and use a gender-equity lens in creating new public policy and corporate solutions that ensure women and their families aren’t left behind even more.”
“‘Not without our sisters’ has become the rallying cry for our decision to delay Women’s Equal Pay Day commemorations,” stated Dorri McWhorter, CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, “A fall commemoration more accurately reflects the full magnitude of the women’s wage gap, particularly on women of color, whose lower pay makes them especially vulnerable during this COVID-19 crisis because they are less likely to have a financial safety net.”
“The COVID-19 outbreak has only made more clear what we already know, that paying women equitably and providing paid sick time, is essential to the economic vitality of our region and our country,” said Felicia Davis, President and CEO of Chicago Foundation for Women. “The Equal Pay Day rally is a way to bring awareness and remind everyone that pay equity and paid sick leave are not just a women’s issue—these issues affect us all.”
Chicago’s 2020 rally for equal pay, organized by the Equal Pay Day Chicago coalition, will take place at 12:00 noon on October 29th, 2020 at the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. Visit http://equalpaydaychi.xyz to learn more.
For additional statements from Equal Pay Day Chicago member organizations on this shift, visit https://www.equalpaydaychi.xyz/press.html/#member
About Equal Pay Day Chicago: Equal Pay Day Chicago is a coalition of over 70 organizations, businesses and government agencies with a common goal of eliminating the pay gap. For more information, visit equalpaydaychi.xyz, or follow @EqualPayDayChic Twitter, @EqualPayDayChicago on Facebook, and @EqualPayDayChi on Instagram.
About Women Employed: Women Employed relentlessly pursues equity for women in the workforce by effecting policy change, expanding access to educational opportunities, and advocating for fair and inclusive workplaces to make the world a better place for us all. Since 1973, Women Employed has opened doors, broken down barriers, and created fundamental, systemic change. For more information, visit https://womenemployed.org, or follow @WomenEmployed on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
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