As the former Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, current board member of MomsRising, and most importantly, being a mom to two incredible daughters myself, fighting for equitable treatment of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and girls is my lifelong mission.
Contrary to the “model minority myth” which perpetuates the false idea that all AAPIs smart, good at math, and ‘crazy rich’, over half a million AAPI women live in poverty one-third. And much of the labor of AAPI women - in nail salons, restaurants, in your home, in the service industry - is devalued, invisibilized or silenced. And the myth has been used as a wedge to further anti-Black racism. But, AAPIs are standing up and declaring we are #NotYourModelMinority.
In 2019, AAPI women still face unequal pay, getting paid only 85 cents for every dollar of what white men get paid. But when we disaggregate the data as NAPAWF has done, we find that even wider wage gaps exist for Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders and AAPI women face some of the largest within-ethnicity pay gaps among all racial groups. This disparity gets worse as AAPI women age. And it’s a fact AAPI moms face a wage penalty for that dads don’t. So the truth is, that not all AAPI families are crazy rich and we need solutions that close the wage gap for all women. March 5 represents the day that AAPI women’s pay catches up to that of white men.
MomsRising is calling on the most diverse Congress yet to pass both a national equal pay bill with and a paid family and medical leave program--both of which are essential solutions to level the playing field for working families. For AAPIs, nothing is more important than family, and many of us thrive in intergenerational homes. The Paycheck Fairness Act would provide women and families with protections from unfair pay. The Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act (FAMILY Act) is a comprehensive paid family leave plan and insurance program that would provide all workers with much-needed income while they, or a family member, welcome the arrival of a new baby or deal with a serious health issue. Paid leave ensures that women stay in the workforce and earn higher pay in the long term.