Woman training in a gym
Latinas represent more than 30 million people who define their origin as Latino or Hispanic, according to Pew Research Center projections Unsplash.com/Sarah Cervantes

As Women's History Month unfolds and International Women's Day is observed, The Latin Times examines the representation and influence of Latinas in the U.S. As Latinas are considered pillars of the U.S. economy, culture, and politics, and recognized as the backbone of the country's most vibrant demographic group, we explore where they stand in terms of influence and representation as a gender.

In terms of population, Latinas represent over 30 million individuals who identify their origin as Latino or Hispanic, as projected by the Pew Research Center based on U.S. Census data.

In addition, there are 12.6 million Latinas in the nation's labor force, comprising 16% of America's female workforce, as reported by UnidosUS. Unfortunately, Latinas face significant underrepresentation, sometimes even double or triple, in various aspects of life in this country. Whether in the realms of labor, politics, or culture, Latinas trail behind their male counterparts within the same demographic, their gender, or when compared to the general population.

Just one piece of data highlights this situation: According to the Center for American Women and Politics, although Latinas make up 9.3% of the entire U.S. population and 18.5% of women in the country, their representation in elective offices is disproportionately low. In Congress, as reported by CAWP, only 19 women identify themselves as Latinas, with 18 in the U.S. House and one in the Senate. At other levels of government, the underrepresentation becomes more pronounced. For instance, in state government, New Mexico Governor Michelle Luján Grisham is the sole Latina representative.

As for the economy, Latinas are recognized as one of the major forces in the country, with the number of Latina business owners having grown by more than 160% in the last four years. However, persistent issues such as the pay gap and job insecurity hinder their development. According to the American Association of University Women, the challenge is exacerbated by the fact that Latinas earn only 55% of what white workers earn and 81% of what male Latinos earn. If this wage gap persists, the AAUW predicts that it will not be closed until 2451.

In this scenario, The Latin Times not only highlights the uphill climb faced by Latinas but also talked to experts, activists, and policymakers to explore the challenges, achievements, and aspirations of the more than 30 million women in the U.S. who trace their origins to Latin American heritage.

To celebrate International Women's Day, we spoke with the following Latina leaders:

  1. Mónica Ramírez, activist and founder of Justice for Migrant Women, discusses the main issues migrant women face today, Biden's immigration bill, and her thoughts on what's at stake for all immigrants in the upcoming election.
  2. Yamila Ruiz, Director of Communications at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Rights, shares insights into the lack of access to reproductive health among Latinas in the U.S. and how this issue impacts not only individuals but entire communities.
  3. Rocío Van Nierop, CEO of Latinas in Tech, emphasizes the importance of Latinos as a major economic force in the U.S. and highlighted how diversity can be viewed as an advantage for any company at the moment.
  4. Linda T. Sánchez, Congresswoman and Chairwoman of Bold Democrats, underscores the significance of reproductive rights for Latina voters and how this issue can influence their stance on supporting specific candidates in the upcoming election.
  5. Laura Vásquez, Associate Director of Immigrant Integration at UnidosUS, discusses the complexities of the U.S. immigration system and how qualified legal service providers can make the process less traumatic for Latina immigrants.
  6. Claudia de la Cruz, 2024 presidential candidate for the Party for Socialism and Liberation, outlines her proposals on the gender pay gap, access to higher education, affordable healthcare, and other major issues Latinas currently face.

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