Today is Southeast Asian equal pay day, a day dedicated to increasing awareness of the wage gap faced by Southeast Asian women in the United States. On average, Asian American women earn 85 cents for every dollar earned by a white man, however, the gender pay gap differs among ethnicities and Southeast Asian women have one of the highest pay gaps comparatively.

Currently, the average Southeast Asian American woman make 61 cents or less for every dollar a white man makes. Breaking it down even further, Burmese women make 51 cents, Samoan women make 56 cents and Hmong women make 59 cents for every dollar a white man earns. The wage gap among Asian women also varies with age and education attainment, with older women and women with lower educational levels receiving lower wages.

According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, the pay gap results in over $7,000 of lost wages for Southeast Asian women each year. That amounts to roughly $349,000 of lost wages throughout an entire career.

South Asian Equal Pay Day marks the end of a month-long observance of Southeast Asian Equal Pay Days including the Hmong Women’s Equal Pay Day on September 11, the Vietnamese and Cambodian Women’s Equal Pay day on August 12, and the Lao Women’s Equal Pay Day on August 31.

Eliminating the wage gap could provide major changes for Southeast Asian women, many of whom are living in poverty. According to the National Partnership, 35 percent of Burmese people live in poverty and 30 percent of Hmong people live in poverty. Eliminating the wage gap could provide Asian women with additional months of childcare, tuition fees, food supplies, mortgage and rent payments.

Newswire Sources: National Partnership for Women and Families 04/18; NAPAWF aapiequalpay.org; The National Women’s Law Center 03/17

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