Statement by NOW President Toni Van Pelt and NOW Board Member Arizona Senator Victoria Steele (Seneca and Mingo):
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Violence. Erasure. Subjugation. Today, we acknowledge the role that the wage gap plays in the many forms of centuries-long oppression of Native American Women.
2019 has marked a year of highs for American Indian and Native Alaskan women, including the election of two Native congresswomen to the U.S. House of Representatives. Yet women are still murdered at ten times the national average in some tribal communities, often at the hands of non-tribal members. Just as shocking, four out of five Indigenous women and girls are victims of violence at some point in their lifetime.
Native Women’s Equal Pay Day serves as a reminder of the breadth of oppression women in Indian Country face every day. The abuse extends beyond gender differences and is rooted more deeply in the injustices – in the forms of racism and genocide – that Indigenous peoples have been subjected to for hundreds of years. There is so much hurt and hate still inflicted upon Native women that our country neglects to reconcile. The wage gap is just one portion of the atrocities.
On average, Native women are paid only 57 percent of the wages White men receive, compared to the 79 percent White women make. This is a stark reminder that we must advocate for all women, especially those from Indian Country, in our effort to close the wage gap. The patriarchy, White supremacy, and systemic racism must all be dismantled in feminist efforts to achieve equity.
Our activism only improves if we focus on the intersectionality of women’s identities. Today, we pay special attention to American Indian and Native Alaskan women in our advocacy for their safety, visibility and equality.
Kimberly Hayes, Press Secretary, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-570-4745