LULAC Marks International Women’s Day With A Call To Action For Power In Unity
Nation’s Oldest and Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Says Women Worldwide Are Shouldering the Impact of COVID-19
Washington, DC - Women leaders of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) today called upon women worldwide to raise their voices wherever they are as a strong reminder to others that the toll of the global pandemic has hit them the hardest and added, the responsibility of dealing with the impact of COVID-19 has earned them the right to share in making policy decisions about their future.
“We refuse to become victims twice of a failed health response that is affecting women disproportionately in this pandemic,” says Elsie Valdes-Ramos, LULAC National Board Member and Vice-President for Women. “We have been sacrificing ourselves during COVID while caring for our families’ health and very often, our household’s finances which have been devastated. Now, as hope for a recovery begins to emerge, may it also mean a new day is dawning for women for even their most fundamental right, giving birth without fearing death. We will not be denied our civil and human rights as people nor our dignity as women!” she added.
Around the world 70% of health care providers on the frontlines are women. Yet, from the Americas to Asia, Africa and Europe, many women are being forced to retreat back into their homes. According to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the pandemic is causing a loss of social progress women have worked for more than 100 years to achieve.
“This is a concerning trend and one we must be resolved to reverse,” says Ralina Cardona, LULAC National Vice-President, Northeast. “In the U.S. and Puerto Rico alone, women possess the skills, the experience and the will to add $5.9 trillion to the global economy in just ten years if our power is unlocked. However, changes must be made at all levels starting with education where less than two-in-ten students in STEM programs are women. Also, there’s no reason why women have to work 44 days extra in a year to get paid what men in the same job earn,” she adds.
Strides are being made by women in elected office, although not fast enough for many civil rights advocates. Researchers at Rutgers University say that in 2021, 143 women serve in the U.S. Congress; 24 women serve in the Senate and 119 women in the House. The number of women in statewide elective executive posts is 94, and the proportion of women in state legislatures is 30.9 percent. Kamala Harris (D) serves as vice president.
“None of these victories has been achieved without a fight because power is never relinquished, it must be seized through hard-fought politics,” says Linda Chavez, LULAC National Vice-President, Southwest. “However, our cause is just and our goals are for the betterment of our communities. If our lives are about inspiring and mentoring other women, then we are serving a worthwhile purpose. That in itself is a joy and a good reason for us to continue with even more determination!”
Yet, the challenges facing women in the U.S. and Puerto Rico are not just about future needs. According to a study by researchers at the University of Illinois, many women are seeing their families today suffering one of the worst rates of food insecurity in modern times. This is because COVID-related unemployment has contributed to a 43% increase in hunger with an estimated 50-million Americans experiencing hunger; 18-million of them are children.
“One-in-five Latino households in Florida has gone without food at least once a week since the pandemic hit,” says Ivonne Quiñones, LULAC National Vice-President, Southeast. “This is one of the worst experiences a mother must endure; feeling helpless to spare her children and family the pain of not knowing from where their next meal will come or how. We all have to fight this economic inequity in the richest country on earth,” she adds.
Concerns over health and personal safety are just as heightened for many seniors in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Alicia Arbaje, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. who specializes in internal medicine and geriatrics at Johns Hopkins warns that America’s elderly are suffering the effects of long-term from social isolation, what to others may appear to be simply social distancing.
“Many seniors who no longer drive or get out without help need access from where they live to reliable information and assistance from trusted resources during the pandemic,” said Elia Mendoza, LULAC National Vice-President for the Elderly. “Our goal is to provide them with printed information they can hold in their hands and refer to since for them, getting on the internet is not always possible. Seniors still deserve our attention and caring,” adds Mendoza.
COVID-19 in 2021 marks one year since the pandemic’s start in the United States. More than 275,000 women have become economic casualties claimed by COVID since the virus arrived. Sindy Benavides, LULAC National Chief Executive Officer says, “COVID unemployment is a setback for decades of gains in the workplace for women, not only in sheer numbers but also in pay equity. Our goal now is to return women to the workforce and in so doing, ensure the progress made over decades to increase representation at all levels is not turned back. We know from first hand experience that when you empower women, you empower the world.”
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit https://lulac.org/