By Myra Guevara, Research Intern
After celebrating our 4th National Advocacy Weekend this past weekend I was personally inspired by the spirit of all our activists around the country. The recent census data shows us that not only are we growing in strength as a community, we’re also growing in numbers.
“The nation’s Hispanic population grew 46.3% over the [last] decade, and even more sharply in many Southeastern states.” In addition to states with long-standing Latino communities, such as Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York and Texas, several southeastern states saw the population of Latinos double including South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas and North Carolina.
Even more astonishing is the fact that Latinos made up 56% of the entire population growth in the United States. We are considered the largest growing minority population, and yet as a people we are lagging behind in educational achievement, job equity, and health insurance coverage. Estimates from 2008 showed that Hispanics have the largest percentage of uninsured people. “In 2007, 32.1 percent of the Hispanic population was not covered by health insurance, as compared to 10.4 percent of the non-Hispanic white population.”
Latinos account for 15% of the population according to 2009 data. Additionally, Latina women account for 20% of all women in the United States. Latina women also account for about half (48%) of the Latino population. Women of reproductive age (15-44 years) account for more than one-fifth (22%) of Latina women while girls under 15 account for 14% of the Latino population. Women over 45 account for the rest (12%). All these women have reproductive health needs and deserve access to affordable services. (Note: all information was derived from American Fact Finder datasets and is rounded to the nearest whole number).
These estimates and numbers do not even include the millions of undocumented men, women and children who may have been too afraid to fill out the census. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that there are 11.1 million undocumented peoples from all over the Americas.
Looking back at the last year of legislation it is no surprise that we saw a trend of xenophobic and anti-women legislation including anti-immigrant law SB-1070 in Arizona; the mandatory 72 hour waiting period and visit to a crises pregnancy center in South Dakota; and HR140 which would change the birthright citizenship to deny citizenship for those born of immigrant parents. This extreme legislation is motivated by fear of these demographic changes.
At Latina Institute we understand that a woman’s right to choose when to have children is closely tied to educational attainment and economic prosperity. This means that we will continue fighting against heinous legislation that attempts to take away access to critical health care options for Latina women. It means that we have strength in numbers to continue advocating for affordable and safe abortions, birth control as preventive care, comprehensive sex education, community health centers, and insurance coverage. It means that even at the darkest hour we will fight tooth and nail for our rights to ensure economic prosperity for our families and for others.
By Myra Guevara, Research Intern