International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political accomplishments of women.[i] The day is also a call to reduce gender inequality.
Since its inception, more than 100 years ago, there have been large strides in the fight for gender equality.[ii] This International Women’s Day, UnidosUS would like to put a spotlight on the incredible Latinas working in the janitorial industry.
The hard work and dedication of these Latinas should not go unrecognized. Female janitors work hard every day, and often every night, to make sure buildings and offices are clean and safe for the next day. Nevertheless, they lack the resources and support to improve their careers and their quality of life.
Women dominate the janitorial industry, making up 65% of its workforce, and many of these women are immigrants.[iii] Though immigrant women make up such a large portion of the workforce, they are concentrated at the lowest pay levels.
Unfortunately, the “ideal worker” in the janitorial industry is someone who works long hours and puts their career first. This is challenging for women, as it slows or disrupts women’s career progression.
More often than men, these women take the night shift—a shift that typically starts at 6:00 p.m. and ends at 2:30 a.m.[iv] They complete an eight-hour shift, go home at dawn, and then sleep for three or four hours before getting up to get their kids ready for school. These hours allow them to provide for their families while also being present in their lives. Many women are mothers or grandmothers and are the sole breadwinners for their family.[v]
UnidosUS Affiliate Building Skills Partnership helps Latinas gain access to educational programs and career training so that they have an opportunity to progress in their careers. They work to improve the quality of life for low-wage workers and their families by increasing their skills, access to education, and opportunities for career and community advancement and participation.[vi]
By Rosemary O’Rourke, Economic Policy Intern, UnidosUS
[i] “About International Women’s Day.” Accessed March 07, 2019. https://www.internationalwomensday.com/About.
[iii] HIP Give. “A Step towards Career Advancement and Stability.” Accessed March 07, 2019. https://hipgive.org/project/a-step-towards-career-advancement-and-stability/.
[vi] Building Skills Partnership. “Our Mission.” Accessed March 07, 2019. http://www.buildingskills.org/.