The economic and educational inequities Latinas have faced for decades have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but efforts are underway to address the disparities and help level the playing field.
According to a new report from Hispanas Organized for Political Equity, Latinas in California earned just 42 cents for every dollar a white man made in 2019, a larger gap than the 45 cents to the dollar reported in 2011. Over a 40-year career, the average Latina in California would lose out on over $1.7 million compared to her white male counterpart.
When it comes to higher education, only 15% of Latinas in California hold at least a bachelor’s degree compared to 43% of white women – a gap of 28 percentage points compared to the national gap of 18 percentage points.
The “Economic Status of Latinas” report also found that nearly 30% of all Latinas in California lost their jobs in the first months of the pandemic, while nearly 40% of undocumented Latinas were laid off.
These are just some of the reasons why the California Latino Legislative Caucus announced the “Unseen Latinas Initiative,” a new two-year effort geared toward addressing the growing inequities California Latinas face in career outcomes, leadership opportunities and access to healthcare and education.
Spearheaded by Latino Caucus Chairwoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), and in coordination with Vice Chair María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) and Assemblywoman Luz Rivas (D-Arelta), “the Unseen Latinas Initiative will bring together educational and economic experts and Latinas working in a range of California industries to understand the problem that currently exists and eventually work toward intentional and targeted solutions,” according to a release issued by the Latino Caucus.
“Through this two-year initiative, the Latino Caucus plans to clearly identify these disparities and push forward an aggressive agenda that prioritizes the success of Latinas in California,” stated Assemblymember Gonzalez in the release. “If we want to finally level the economic playing field in this state, California has to take on the deep-rooted, systemic racism and misogyny that holds Latinas down.”
A press conference and tweet-storm will be held to kick-off the initiative on Thursday, October 29 – National Latina Equal Pay Day.
Meanwhile, California voters will also have the opportunity to help level the playing field this November through Proposition 16, which would reverse the ban on equal opportunity policies and give women and communities of color a fair shot at better jobs and access to higher education and healthcare.
We hope voters approve Prop 16 so that more programs like the Unseen Latinas Initiative can see the light of day with actionable solutions that can be put in play to help end systemic racism in California.