April 22, 2013
It’s no secret that Latinas are the hardest hit by the gender wage gap. A recent analysis from the National Partnership for Women and Families showed that Latinas are paid 55 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men in the nation’s top 50 metro areas. Although wage disparities exist at all career levels for Latinas, immigrant women are especially susceptible and are considered the least economically secure population in the United States.
Currently, there are approximately 5.4 million undocumented immigrant women living and working in the United States who must work the lowest-paying jobs because of their immigration status. In 2011, 208,000 Latina women worked in jobs paying below the federal minimum wage compared to 172,000 Latino men.
Research shows that a woman’s average lifetime earnings are more than $434,000 less than a comparable male counterpart over a 35-year working life. This means very difficult financial choices for women of color, who are more likely to be the breadwinners that than their white counterparts.
“When women are not paid enough, it affects their families, particularly the education of their children,” says Claudia Williams, research analyst at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
She says that this lack of financial security also means that they are less likely to save for retirement.
Williams believes that immigration reform would improve women’s economic circumstances. If they are subject to abuse, they would also be able to move to another job. Not only are undocumented Latinas underpaid, they must often work in hostile environments. Women in agribusiness, for instance, experience high levels of sexual harassment and sexual violence at work and their undocumented status makes it very difficult for them to challenge these conditions or look for other jobs.
Iliana Guadalupe Perez, 25, an independent contractor who helps educate other undocumented immigrants to find her kind of work, says that though her sales and marketing contracting has certain benefits, such as flexibility and a fairly high hourly rate, it’s not what she wants to do in the long run. “This has nothing to do with what I’ve studied,” Perez says. “My degree in math was useless. I couldn’t even get an interview. This is not my ideal situation.” Perez, who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Education and a Masters in Economics, says her dream job would be working in the U.N. or the World Bank.
Another disadvantage is in her line of work, Perez says, is that she’s unable to get tenure, which would result in pay increases over time. Not only that, she points out that undocumented people don’t have the option of insurance, retirement funds, or investment funds.
Perez also feels that immigration reform will significantly improve the financial status of Latinas. “It will give a lot of Latinas the opportunities to use their skills. A lot are educated but are limited to their potential. A Social Security number would allow people to explore new avenues for employment.”
Ann Garcia, an immigration policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, says that the Paycheck Fairness Act and immigration reform would help close the wage gap for Latinas and improve the economy. “When you legalize workers, you offer them citizenship. Taking the worker out of the economic sidelines would cause a rise in productivity and wages that would create a great ripple effect in the economy,” says Garcia.
According to the Center for American Progress, immigration reform that would legalize the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. would add a cumulative $1.5 trillion to U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP, over 10 years.
Garcia says that American workers and undocumented immigrants would see a huge rise in income and that the boost in wages would be bigger for woman than men. “It would provide improved economic outcomes through increased legal protections, better investments in education and training, higher paying jobs, economic mobility. It would also easier for people to start their own business,” Garcia says. “If we can have economic actors earning more, consuming more, and paying higher taxes, the economy would see a serious amount of growth.”
in conferences on data visualization, creative code, information graphics
What is Rio+20?
How did we get from 1992 to 2012? What are the countries discussing? Why is this a necessary forum?
The United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe provides this infographic to explain Rio+20 Sustainable Development Conference currently happening in Rio de Janeiro.
Myths of Origin in the Classroom
Gita Sahgal is a writer and journalist on issues of feminism, fundamentalism, and racism, a director of prize-winning documentary films, and a women’s rights and human rights activist. She has been a co-founder and active member of women’s organizations. She has also been head of Amnesty International’s Gender Unit, and has opposed the oppression of women in particular by religious fundamentalists.
Play Time: 43:22
Some powerful photo illustrations come with Foreign Policy’s stunning cover feature on the real war unfolding on women in the middle east, written by the awesome and oh-so-brave Egyptian revolutionary Mona Eltahawy. Read it.
Palestine Women First
This is the story of a new generation of radical Palestinian activists who stand out from their society in the most distinct way: they are women.
“Palestine: Women First,” photographed by Mati Milstein and curated by Saher Saman, opens June 15th at Marji Gallery & Contemporary Projects, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States.
These activists are on the front lines of West Bank protest, they are beaten and face arrest and sexual harassment for their bold role. Starting with the March 15 Palestinian unity rallies in the West Bank, I began to photograph the increasingly central role played by Palestinian women activists. Most of these women are in their teens and 20s, they hold key organizational positions and lead protests against Israeli (and sometimes Palestinian) security forces, standing on the lines – in front of their male counterparts – and bearing the brunt of soldiers’ blows. The women seek to both shake off Israeli occupation and to demand sexual equality and unity in their highly-fragmented and often chauvinist society.
The critical role they play counters the prevailing Western perception of the submissive and passive role of women in Arab societies. “Throughout history, women have been active in revolutions but then, after the revolution is over, men take all the leadership roles. But we intend to go for all these roles,” said key activist Ashira, who said she was inspired by Egyptian women active in their own revolution.
These politically-independent women implement a strategy of strictly non-violent protests against Israeli troops, and face potentially deadly military force. But they are also fighting against sexual harassment and chauvinism by Israeli soldiers and male Palestinian activists who are both products of deeply patriarchal societies.
The March 15th women are altering the social paradigms and power dynamics that have, until now, dominated interaction and conflict in the Middle East, and they thus have the potential to change the very nature and character of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself. As feminist philosopher Judith Butler described it, they are undoing “restrictively normative conceptions of sexual and gendered life.”
As a male Israeli photographer, I have had a unique opportunity to meet some of the key women in this movement. They have generously granted me the opportunity to learn about their actions, their goals and their motivations, and to document their political and personal lives.
“Women are often scared of being leaders,” Ashira said. “But it should be encouraged. Any woman that has a chance for a leadership role should take it. That’s the only way we can change society.”