Given that women make up nearly half of the total population of South Asians in the United States, gender equity is a critical goal within the South Asian community that groups and individuals are increasingly bringing to the forefront of advocacy. Significant disparities among men and women of South Asian descent are evident along several different variables, including education, presence in the workforce, annual income, and limited English proficiency. For example, more than twice as many South Asian men earn more than $57,000 than women, while twice as many South Asian women earn less than $12,500 than men. In the labor force, South Asian women are significantly underrepresented in comparison to men, particularly among Indians and Pakistanis. Finally, as over one-fourth of South Asian women are limited English proficient, language barriers are another factor that contributes to the disempowerment of South Asian women in the United States.
In addition to these incredible disparities in gender equity in the South Asian community, there are numerous issues of importance facing South Asian women in the United States. Some of the most serious of these issues include domestic violence, trafficking, transnational abandonment, reproductive rights, access to mental health services, and economic disempowerment. Unfortunately, many South Asian women face one of these issues and, quite frequently, they may face more than one of these issues, as several of them overlap. Additionally, these issues are often complicated and exacerbated by the challenges faced by those who are undocumented or whose status is dependent on another individual.
Though none of these issues will be resolved in a short period of time, SAALT strives to move forward our community and society at large in addressing them. SAALT advocates to address and prevent gender-based violence and exploitation within the South Asian community, increase culturally and linguistically appropriate services for South Asian women, and support the economic empowerment of South Asian women. SAALT firmly believes that until our women are equal, safe, and have access to opportunities and services, we will not live in a just society for all.
SAALT Resources on Gender Justice
- Comment by SAALT and other South Asian organizations regarding the Proposed Rule on Employment Authorization for Certain H‑4 Dependent Spouses (July 2014)
- NCSO South Asian Women Organizations & Allies Statement (January 2013)
- Comment by SAALT and other organizations on Eligibility or Employment Authorization for Battered Spouses of Certain Nonimmigrants (January 2013)
- Joint AAPI Letter Regarding VAWA 2012 (H.R. 4970) (May 2012)