Friday, October 2, 2015

The Age of The Telecommuter

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Imagine waking up to a horrible storm, several subway lines have been affected. Your job is an hour and a half away, due to service changes getting there could take double that. Lucky for you, you work from home.

Now imagine that you’ve finally booked that much-needed vacation. Seven days of rest and relaxation with family, friends…and your work colleagues who will be joining in via conference calls and e-mails, because unfortunately, you will be working while on vacation.

Those are two very different scenarios, but both quite possible due to expansions of workplace technology that have made it easier than ever to work from remote locations.

As of 2013, there are 3.3 million Americans, not counting those self-employed, working from home. Working from home comes with many perks. Schedule flexibility, fewer interruptions from coworkers, and a lack of commuting that not only saves money on transportation costs but also helps the environment by reducing pollution associated with driving to work daily.

Work from home opportunities can be found in many fields, primarily health care, information technology, education, nonprofit, and sales and marketing. However, if your current job does not offer any telecommuting opportunities, that’s not necessarily a deal breaker.

If telecommuting is something that you are truly interested in, experts suggest you pitch the idea to your boss. Begin by writing a proposal, address the pros and cons and try to come up with solutions for any anticipated challenges. Ask for a trial period, a fixed amount of time in which you could demonstrate the benefits associated with your proposal. Lastly, be prepared to negotiate! Be clear on the details so that both you and your employer get positive results.

If you can work from home, however, then it’s very likely that you can work from vacation as well. Although many of us may cringe at the idea, the reality is that most of us already do it. Working outside the office is not limited to telecommuters, research shows that 60% of all American employees work while on vacation. Although the best option would be to unplug all together, sometimes you may have no choice. So how can you get the work done and still have fun?

The first step is to set aside specific times. Designate a few hours a day (i.e early in the morning or before going to bed) to check work emails and perform pressing work related duties. Make sure you plan your time effectively, so that the things that need to get done, do get done.

Conversely, designate “family/friends” times in which you will not handle any work business at all. Make sure to inform your colleagues of these times beforehand so that they know what to expect. Finally, do not be afraid to delegate less important items to other co-workers. After all, you are on vacation!

Working remotely results in increased productivity and decreased absenteeism, benefiting both employers and employees. The workplace has outgrown the traditional in-office setting, calling employees to work in non-traditional ways, whether that be while sitting in their living rooms in pajamas or lounging on a hammock on the beach in Costa Rica.

Originally published in LatinTrends Magazine, August 2015

Thursday, October 1, 2015

World's Billionaires

They say that while the poor get poorer, the rich get richer. This may very well be the case, as there are now more billionaires than ever before. Every March, Forbes Magazine ranks the richest people on earth, compiling the renowned “The World's Billionaires” list. This year’s list is made up of 1,862 individuals with billion dollar fortunes, a significant increase from the 1,645 reported just last year.

The list is typically compromised of the usual magnates: Global investor, Warren Buffet, the third richest man in the world with a $72.7 billion dollar net worth, industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch valued at $42.9 billion dollars respectively, and of course Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, who with a net worth of $79.2 billion, has held the title of the richest man in the world for sixteen out of the past twenty-one years.

However, there are a few surprises.

Basketball great, Michael Jordan, for example recently joined the billionaires club with a net worth of $1 billion. A few more women have also joined the league. This year there were 197 women billionaires, up from the 172 the year before. Christy Walton, widow of John Walton, son of WalMart founder Sam Walton, is currently the wealthiest woman in the world, with an inherited net worth of $41.7 billion. Liliane Bentacourt, heiress to L’Oreal cosmetics, is the second, her net worth valued at about $40.1 billion.

What’s perhaps most surprising however, is that although many of the world’s billionaires achieved their wealth through inheritance alone, most of them are actually self-made. A notable example is Elizabeth Holmes, whom after dropping out of Stanford at 19 years old, has not only revolutionized health care with her blood testing company, Theranos, but has managed to become the worlds youngest female billionaire in the process. Then there’s Jorge Perez, who immigrated to the US from Argentina to become an urban planner, and is now amassing billions developing luxury condos in Florida.

There are many other Latinos and Hispanics counting their billions all the way to the bank. For example, there’s Jorge Paulo Lemann, the richest man in Brazil, who accumulated his wealth as a beer baron through stakes in the world’s largest brewery and the richest man in Colombia, banker Luis Carlos Sarmiento, who’s investments have earned him a $12.5 Billion net.

At 30 years old, the youngest Latino Billionaire is Julio Mario Santo Domingo, III, a New York City DJ and heir to grandfather Julio Mario Santo Domingo’s Colombian beer company fortune. Other notable Latino billionaires include, Mexican business woman Eva Gonda Rivera, widow of Eugenio Garza Laguera, former chair of Latin America's biggest independent beverage distributor and Peruvian Eduardo Belmont, owner of the cosmetics company Belcorp.

The wealthiest Latina woman in the world is Iris Fontbona. The Chilean businesswoman ranks 82 among the world’s billionaires. After inheriting her late husband Andronico Luksic’s mining business in 2005, her net worth is currently estimated at $13.3 billion.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, two of the top five wealthiest billionaires are Latinos. Amancio Ortega, founder of the retail company Zara, ranks as the fourth richest person in the world. The son of a railway worker, Ortega’s first job was in a shirtmaker’s shop. Now, his very own clothing company has accumulated him a worth of $64.5 billion.

Finally, there’s CarlosSlim Helu. With a net worth of $77.1 Billion, the Mexican investor is considered the second richest man in the world. At a point, he even out-earned Bill Gates, and was named the richest man on earth from 2010-2013. Helu’s wide array of business ventures extends across a number of fields, from telecommunications, to retail, to automotive services to energy and construction, to name just a few. With stakes in so many places, Gates better watch out, it looks like Helu is still out for that number one spot.

ally published in LatinTrends Magazine, August 2015

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Dissection of the Prison Population

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world…by a landslide. No other country even comes close to incarcerating as many of its citizens as us. In the past thirty years, the American prison population has increased by about 500%, from 300,000 in the 1980s to over 2.2 million now. It is no wonder that prisons are severely overcrowded, and if the cast of the popular Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black” is any indication, a sizable amount of those in prison are Latino.

Data on incarcerated Latinos is hard to find due to ambiguous record keeping, as Hispanic is characterized as an ethnicity rather than a race and the federal government's data source for national crime statistics does not keep data on ethnicity. However, as per the SentencingProject, an organization that promotes reform in sentencing policies, it has been estimated that as of 2012, Latinos are four times as likely as Caucasians to end up in prison. One out of every three people in Federal prisons is of Latino descent. The numbers for state prisons are just as alarming. Data records show that even though White Americans make up 78 percent of the U.S. population, they only account for 35 percent of the state prison population, while Hispanics, who make up 17 percent of the U.S. population, account for 21 percent of those in state prisons.

This overwhelming number of incarcerations continues to increase even though overall crime in America is at a steady decline. The United States crime rate saw its peak in the 1990s. Since then, violent crimes, such as homicides, rapes and robberies, have dropped by an average of 48% nationwide. This increased number of incarcerations but decreased number in crime can be largely attributed to escalated policing and harsh sentencing, practices, which many believe target African Americans and Latinos.

This allegation may not be too far fetched. It seems as if there is a new case of law enforcement using deadly force against men of color who pose minimal threat almost weekly. In Baltimore, for example, the city has seen weeks of unrest due to the death of a 25-year-old man at the hands of police. Since the number of Latinos that reside in that city has almost doubled in the past 10 years, it is no surprise that many Latinos stand in solidarity with Black Americans regarding this issue. Gustavo Torres, executive Director of Casa de Maryland, a Latino and immigration advocacy organization, told MSNBC that Latinos in Maryland are also concerned with the hostile relationships between law enforcement and minorities. This volatile relationship is perhaps most obvious when examining drug-specific arrests.

Drug related offenses have increased by an astounding 1100% since the 1980s. To the extent that those currently incarcerated for drug related crimes amount to more than those incarcerated for all offenses in 1980. Even though government records show that White Americans use and sell drugs at a higher rate, more than 80% of those arrested for drug offenses (primarily marijuana possession) are Black and/or Latino.

This stark comparison is not surprising, considering that research also shows that Black and Latinos are stopped and frisked three times more often than White Americans. A recent study conducted by Christopher Petrella at the University of California Berkeley, found that not only are people of color more likely to be arrested, but they are also more likely to serve time in private prisons. Private prisons became popular in 1984, when as a response to the massive costs associated with the overpopulation of federal and state prisons, a group of Tennessee investors created an organization called Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). The CCA uses private investment or venture capital to build and run their own prisons then make profit off of them by leasing the beds to the state. Currently, nearly ten percent of American prisons fall under the private prison jurisdiction. Prisons, which compared to their public counterparts, have a higher level of violence and corruption and a lower level of health care services and educational programs.

However even though Latinos are incarcerated for minor drug offenses at a disparate rate, most Hispanic prison sentences come as a result of immigration crimes, particularly illegal crossing and alien smuggling. As per the Pew Research Center, among all Hispanics sentenced in federal courts since 2007, 48% were sentenced for immigration offenses, 37% for drug offenses and 15% for other offenses. What’s perhaps more interesting to note is that immigration crimes, unlike most other criminal offenses, fall under the jurisdiction of federal prisons rather than state or local courts, therefore they are always tried as Federal offenses. The average sentence for immigration crimes is currently two years.

The overcrowding of prisons, particularly by people of color and particularly for non-violent crimes, has become such a problem that many politicians are beginning to take note. In reaction to current events, 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently proposed an end to mass incarceration, calling for a re-evaluation of prison sentences and trust between police and communities. New Attorney General, Loretta Lynch’s stance however is still pretty much undefined. Yet the numbers are hard to ignore. The United States is only 5% of the World’s population, but 25% of its prison system, a system that costs us upwards of $80 billion a year. It’s clearer now more than ever that our criminal justice system needs some serious reform.

Originally Published in LatinTrends Magazine, June 2015

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Gambling on Hope

Fresh faced and wide eyed, I arrived in the Dominican Republic. It was my first time visiting in years.

The first person I wanted to see was my favorite cousin, Tati.
“Let’s surprise her at work” my aunt suggested.
“Let’s go!” I beamed, “Where does she work?”
“Right up the block, in la banca”
I looked to where my aunt was pointing, there wasn’t a bank in sight.
“No, not a banco, a banca” my aunt said.
“Oh yes, of course” I nodded, pretending to know the difference…

Bancas are small betting parlors found most prominently in the Dominican Republic. They process almost all types of gambling activity, from the national lottery to wagers on athletic competitions. Sport Bancas accept bets on local sports, as well as American athletic leagues such as Baseball (MLB), Basketball (NBA), Football (NFL) and even hockey (NHL)!

Bancas are usually very small in size but stand out due to their brightly colored storefronts, painted in cheerful shades of greens, blues and yellows. Inside, they are inhabited by a single clerk, who sits behind a glass window typing away in the computer used to record the bets.

Bancas are a fairly new phenomenon, with the majority emerging around 2006. By this estimate, most bancas are not even 10 years old. But boy have they spread quickly!

In the Dominican Republic alone, there are about 30,750 legal betting parlors. However, it is estimated that there is a similar figure of illegal establishments, bringing the total number to a little over 60,000 bancas in the country. In some areas, there are two or more bancas in a single street block, disregarding the law that states that Bancas must be located more than 400 meters apart.

Setting up a banca requires a permit, which may be expensive and difficult to obtain. Illegal bancas are more profitable for their owners because by setting up shop without a permit, they can keep most of the profit for themselves.

Dominicans wager about RD $300 million pesos, or the equivalent of $70 million US dollars on betting parlors a day. And this figure only accounts for the legal parlors. Assuming that the same figure is staked on illegal parlors, it can be said, as noted by Dominican news source, Dominican Today, that Dominicans are currently spending over RD $600 million pesos or $140 million American Dollars on gambling activities each day.

Let that sink in…

In a country characterized by poverty, where unemployment is currently at 15% and about 41% of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day, people are gambling the equivalent of the listing price of the most expensive mansion in the Hamptons on a daily basis.

Illicit gambling activity is not just limited to the Dominican Republic. Gambling is a growing problem in all of Latin America. Largely in part due to lax gambling laws and regulations, many Latin American countries are plagued by illegal street lotteries, unauthorized use of slot machines and a wide array of both legal and illegal casinos.

In Chile, for example, recent years have seen a boom in illegal slot machine parlors, known as neighborhood slots. There are about 150,000 slot machines accessible in local storefronts, even though the law restricts their use to casinos only. A similar issue occurs in Uruguay, where there are about 20,000 illegal machines located in neighborhood businesses nationwide. In Mexico, an estimated 107 of the nation’s casinos currently operate without a license.

Not surprisingly, gambling is a source of big money in these countries. Illegal slot machines in Uruguay generate an estimated $170 million a year, not counting the $240 million generated by legal slot machines. A Latin American Gaming & Gambling Report published by Research and Markets in 2011, estimated that if the legal and illegal gaming activities of Latin America were combined, they would generate over $150 billion dollars in revenue a year.

But who is this money going to? Certainly NOT to the people making the bets, that’s for sure.

Studies show that people who live in poverty gamble at a higher rate than those who are better off. It should come as no surprise then, that Bancas and gambling establishments like them, are most abundant in poor neighborhoods. Neighborhoods in which you may not find a paved road to walk in but you can expect to find several colorful betting parlors only steps apart.

So why do these people, who for all intents and purposes do not have the means to do so, continue to gamble? Are they stupid? Are they lazy? Or are they just people like you and I, driven by hope? Hope that things will get better. That luck will finally be on their side. That one day, “van a pegar una” and they will make it big. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all hope for?

Originally Published in LatinTrends Magazine, May 2015

Star Watch: Interview with Daniela Alonso

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Hard working, animal-loving, 100% honest and the star of the new movie Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 out in theaters April 17, 2014. We sat with the Beautiful Daniella Alonso, and this is what she told us…

Can you tell us a little about the movie and your character Divina?
The movie takes place in the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, there is a Mall Cop convention and Paul Blart ends up going. All the mall cops show up. So you get to meet different kinds of mall cops from all over the Unites States, which is just even funnier! My character, Divina Martinez, she’s the manager of the Wynn Hotel, she’s very put together and everything runs smoothly under her command, until she meets Paul and …

And then madness ensues

What’s your favorite memory from working on the set of this film?You know, there’s so many because I have to say, this is one of the most amazing sets I have EVER been on. Not only is almost the entire cast comedians, which is amazing because you’re laughing nonstop… Kevin [James], Gary Valentine, Andy Fickman, who’s the director, these guys are so generous with their talent and their time and every time you do any scene with them, it’s like nothing’s ever wrong. You were just having fun and doing the work. So it was just… I can’t pick a favorite moment, because they were all pretty amazing.

I’m glad that you had such a great experience! You’ve been quite busy lately, in addition to PAUL BLART, you are also playing the titular role in ISOLATED VICTIM, produced by Zoe and Cisely Saldana. Can you tell us a little bit about that film?
That was a very special movie, in a different way. We shot in the Dominican Republic. It’s loosely based on a true story of this woman who came to Haiti after the earthquake to help out for a few days. She saw that a lot of the kids there lost their parents and they were sold as slaves and the government turned a blind eye. She couldn’t believe what was going on, so she started to fight for these kids and found two orphanages. It’s a beautiful story about a hero. A normal everyday woman that saw something wrong and decided to do something about it.

How your character, Liliana Santana, different from you other roles?I’ve never played a real person, so that was kind of a little added pressure. And somebody like I said, a hero, a real modern day hero and you want to do her justice. When I got the script, I was working on a TV show and I literally had three days to prepare. I worked on it and worked on it, and the day before shooting, the director was like “The whole movie is in Spanish, English and Creole” and I had no idea! So I had a little mini nervous breakdown…

You had to learn Creole?Yes…I had a coach who came on set everyday during lunch and we would work on my Creole.

That’s amazingIt was one of the best experiences of my life. We worked with a lot of Haitian children, actors and non-actors. It was just something that as an American, you’re not really exposed to. They are just the sweetest people, the most generous, they have nothing but will offer you everything they have. It was really life changing. And I got to work with one of my favorite actors, Algenis Perez Soto, he’s like one of my best friends.

Another Latino! The past couple of years have seen a rise in Latinos/as on film and television. What do you think about the growing numbers of Latinas in the media?
I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction. A lot of people that have come before us have fought for this and I’m thankful and always grateful. At the same time, it’s still just a step in the right direction. We are still just “the girlfriends of” and “the best friends of”. We are still supporting, as opposed to leading. Once we have leading roles and a full Latino cast without just being the one Latino to fill the quota, I think that’s when real change would have taken place. Again, I’m grateful because I have been given so many opportunities and I’m so thankful for them…I just still see the road ahead and see that there’s still work to be done.

Who is your favorite Latina/o actor or entertainer right now?I love Jennifer Lopez for everything that she’s done, across the board. Her, Eva Longoria, actresses like that, who really fight for Latinos to be seen and represented. I really respect them, and would love to one day be able to do the same. I definitely respect them so much.

If you could work alongside anyone in the future (Latina or not), who would it be?Right now, my favorite actress is Cate Blanchett. To me she can do no wrong, the way that she transforms, from role to role, she looks amazing, and she takes risks, not only in fashion but in her roles, they’re so different…I’m obsessed with her right now.

Talking about fashion, what is your favorite item in your closet right now?Probably my jeans. My black jeans. You can never go wrong with skinny black jeans. You can dress it up, dress it down, you can do anything.

I read somewhere that you always knew that you wanted to be an actress. While pursuing your dream, were you ever discouraged and if so, how would you deal with it?Yea of course, a lot of times. When you get into, and it happens to everybody, “the funk”. The lows are OK, I get it, I know it’s part of business, I don’t take it personally because I believe in myself. I think that it starts from there, you really have to believe in yourself. I know how hard I work. I know that it’s a process, and you know what, this is my dream, I’m living my dream. You have to stick with it, because it’s the people that stick with it that eventually reap the benefits. It’s the people that give up, that don’t. Everybody gets “No’s” believe me, I’m sure Jennifer Lopez and Eva Longoria, I’m sure they got their “Nos”. But you have to stay at it, just believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself it shows.

You can sense it Absolutely. I’ve sat in casting offices, which is such a great thing for actors to do. You can feel that energy. Guys walk in or girls walk in, and they are not the best, but they believe that they’re good, and you want to work with them: you have something, I like it.

What is the best advice you've been given?My very first manager, Toby Gibson, she’s amazing…She said “No is never really a no” and that always stuck with me…One casting director may say no, but they remember you and bring you back in and a few months later, or a year later, it’s a yes. So no is never really a no.

Obviously you are very beautiful. Can you share some of your beauty secrets with us?I have eczema on my face. So I can’t use anything like peels or any of that stuff, but what I really try to do is to moisturize like crazy. Moisturize, moisturize moisturize all day long. And stay out of the sun…Sunblock, stay out of the sun, moisturize and drink water. Water is the best.

You grew up in NYC and have a mix of Puerto Rican and Peruvian origins, how has this affected your cultural identity?I definitely am closer to the Puerto Rican side of my family, my mom’s side of the family, because I grew up with them. I grew up with a very large extended family, my grandmother, her sisters, all in the same building and had 5 or 6 kids, my great grandmother, my grandpa…So I grew up with this really enhanced sense of family. I had friends, but I didn’t need friends, because I had my cousins, and those were my friends. And those are the people that I grew up with and that I love and I trust in 100%, I was very lucky in that. I grew up in this Puerto Rican household with Latinas that were opinionated and loud and strong women that took care of the household. And that just really molded me. I am very honest, 100% honest.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?How much I love animals. I love all kinds of animals. Every single animal alive. It came from my grandfather, he loves animals and I‘ve just grown up with them…

Do you have any pets?I have a turtle, Taylor, who I got in China Town for 5 dollars, he’s 21. I got him when he was like one day old. I have a dog, my baby, my little Carolina, she’s a North American Dingo. I love her…I would get more, but it’s hard with work and the travelling.

What is next for Daniella Alonso, where can we expect to see you next?I don’t know what the future has in store, but right now I’m working on a show called “Being Mary Jane”, its so much fun, I’m such a fan of the show. I just started a few weeks ago; I’ll be playing the new Latina telecaster.

Great! Thanks Daniella. Can’t wait to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 on the big screen!

Originally Published in LatinTrends Magazine, May 2015

Friday, May 1, 2015

Latinas In Tech

We are currently in the midst of a digital revolution. The past couple of years have been characterized by remarkable growth and development in the fields of technology. A time in which there’s an app for everything and young college dropouts can become self-made millionaires from scratch. Everything about this age screams innovation. Everything but perhaps, the diversity of its workforce.

Diversity data released by some of the most popular tech companies, reported that most of Silicon Valley is significantly white, and more significantly so, male. Technology giant Apple, for example, is 70% male, 55% white, and only 11% Latino. At Yahoo and Facebook Latinos account for only 4% and at Google, for 3% of the general workforce.

Taking these numbers into consideration, it’s hard to imagine any Latinas making their mark in technology. But, Latinas are not just consumers of technology; they are technology innovators as well. Below are five of our favorite Latinas in tech:

1. Laura I. Gomez

“[What] does the face of entrepreneurship look like? It most likely doesn't look like me…”- Gomez to the Huffington Post, 8/2014.

From Google to Jawbone to Twitter, Gomez has worked in some of the best technology companies. At Twitter, she was the social network’s first Latina employee, eventually spearheading Twitter en Español for over three years. She is now founder and CEO of Atipica, a startup that aims to solve the problem of diversity in technology.

2. Monica Vila

“We all bear a responsibility for raising healthy kids, and regulating the amount of media they consume is an increasingly important part of that equation.” Vila, in her article for the Huffington Post, 8/2011

An active advocate of parents embracing technology, Vila founded, The Online Mom, a multifaceted tool to help parents protect their kids and encourage responsible behavior online

3. Judy Tomlinson

“I saw that we cannot live without our smart phones…so I began to design smart jewelry.” Tomlinson to Mas Wired 5/2014

Initially an electrical engineer, Tomlinson’s latest venture is founder and CEO of FashionTEQ, a company that makes technology wearable. FashionTEQ offers an extensive line of jewelry and accessories that marry fashion and technology by allowing the wearer to seamlessly keep tabs on their phone calls, texts and emails without ever having to check their phone.

4. Noramay Cadena, Diana Albarrán Chicas, Luz Rivas, Jazlyn Carvajal & Veronica Garcia.
“We want to spread awareness about STEM and to encourage Latinas…especially within underserved communities, to strongly consider pursuing a STEM career.” Albarrán Chicas to ScientificAmerican, 10/ 2014.

Ok, so this is technically more than one Latina…These five MIT alumna, founded the STEM Foundation in the summer of 2013. The goal of the organization is to increase the number of Latinas in STEM careers, that is, the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

5. Cassandra Baquero, Grecia Cano, Caitlyn Gonzalez, Kayleen Gonzalez, Janessa Leija and Jacqueline Garcia Torres
“This makes me feel so excited and happy and very proud,” Cano to the Brownsville Herald in February, 2014

When six middle school girls noticed that their visually impaired friend, Andres, struggled to get around, they decided to help. They created Hello Navi, a mobile application that relies on voice commands and pre-loaded paths to help guide visually impaired students. The app won the 2013-2014 Verizon Innovative App Challenge, a $20,000 award for the school, a trip to Washington, D.C. for the girls, bust most importantly provided a great deal of assistance to Andres and others like him… did I mention these girls are only 13 years old?

Originally Published in LatinTrends Magazine, Mar 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

IWD 2015- Make it Happen!

March 8th is International Women’s Day! The United Nations recognizes it as “…a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”

While we should be doing that EVERYDAY, this day in particular serves as a globally recognized platform to celebrate the achievements of women both present and past.

International Women’s Day started in North America and Europe as a result of the labor movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1909, the first National Women’s Day was observed in New York City to recognize the garment industry workers that had taken to the streets to protest poor working conditions. Subsequently in 1911, the first International Women’s Day was celebrated. Millions of men and women gathered across Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland to rally for women’s rights, most notably the right to vote, hold public office and not be discriminated against at work.

Over a century later, International Women’s Day is still globally revered. It is now an official holiday in several countries. The growing movement continues to address women’s rights, albeit at a different magnitude, but with the same overarching goal: equality. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “Make It Happen”. It’s goal being to encourage effective action for advancing and recognizing women worldwide.

Yet, considering that women are generally paid lower wages than their male counterparts, are underrepresented in business and politics and universally have less access to education and healthcare and are more prone to being victims of violence, can we really say that we are making it happen? Presumptively, we can. And we should.

More than just a call for action, International Women’s Day urges us to commemorate the strides that we have made over the years. And there have been many strides. International trends show that the economic power of women is continuously increasing to match the economic power of men. As is common knowledge, countries with more gender equality have better overall economic growth. There is no better place to witness this phenomenon then here in our own backyard.

By the year 2028, it is projected that the average American woman will out-earn the average American man. The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) reports that women-owned businesses generate a total economic impact of over $3 trillion. In addition to earning revenue, these businesses help the economy by providing employment for 7.5 million American workers.

Seemingly, since an estimated 60.5% Latinas will be part of the U.S. workforce in 2020, there has been a nearly 200% increase in Latina-owned business and Latina business owners have a start-up rate of six times the national average, it is very likely that Latinas will play a sizable role in attaining that widely sought economic power.

Now there’s a reason to celebrate! But with the many opportunities that undoubtedly lie ahead of us, there is a lot more to make happen.

Originally published in LatinTrends Magazine, March 2015