By Katie Stanton
Social Media & Online Engagement Manager, YWCA USA
This week, there was a lot of news and stories about poverty and economic equality. From the physical effects of living in poverty to the future risks for children in poor families, stories took on a variety of aspects of life under the poverty line.
What’s missing for us, however, is a call to action. What can we do about the estimated 14% of American women who live in poverty? YWCAs across the country prioritize economic empowerment for women and their families, because it is women who can benefit the most by becoming financially independent and empowered. Local YWCAs offer job training and financial literacy courses for women and girls, as well as reliable childcare so that steady employment is possible, and scholarships and leadership development so that young women can make great strides.
Find a YWCA near you, and share the stories below with your networks. Together, we can change the economic reality for women and their families.
1. Dr. Benard Dreyer, Professor of pediatrics at New York University and co-chair of the Academic Pediatric Association task force on childhood poverty is interviewed in this must-read article about the effects of poverty on young children, and what we can do about it.
‘Nursery school dropouts’: Poverty as a health crisis for many of America’s kids, by Barbara Raab, NBC News
“For some bizarre reason, children are the poorest group in our society, as opposed to being protected from poverty. Twenty-two per cent of children live below the federal poverty level but 43% are below 200% of federal poverty level. Almost half our children are in danger. Many of the problems that we as pediatricians care about and want to work on to help children are based in the fact that they’re poor. We know if they don’t have a good early childhood, it’s difficult to catch up.”
2. Stories like these, which illustrate the realities of living on food stamps, must be shared publicly so that Congress understands the effects of cutting the budget for a successful program like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. You can tell Congress, too: send a message and let them know what women and families need from a responsible budget.
On the Edge of Poverty, at the Center of a Debate on Food Stamps, by Sheryl Gay Stoberg, The New York Times
“No matter what Congress decides, benefits will be reduced in November, when a provision in the 2009 stimulus bill expires.
Yet as lawmakers cast the fight in terms of spending, nonpartisan budget analysts and hunger relief advocates warn of a spike in “food insecurity” among Americans who, as Mr. Rigsby said recently, “look like we are fine,” but live on the edge of poverty, skipping meals and rationing food.”
3. What happens when wage growth is stagnated?
This Week in Poverty: ’90 Percent of Workers Aren’t Getting Bupkis’, by Greg Kaufmann, The Nation
“From 2000 to 2007, productivity increased by a robust 16 percent but a worker at the fiftieth percentile saw a wage growth of just 2.6 percent, a worker at the twentieth percentile saw a wage increase of 1 percent and the eightieth percentile saw a wage growth of 4.6 percent. Indeed, over the past ten years, wages were stagnant or declined for the bottom 70 percent.”
4. During the Anniversary of the 50th March on Washington, there was a lot of analysis about the current state of economic equality for whites and blacks, as compared to 50 years ago. These charts show that there hasn’t been much progress.
These ten charts show the black-white economic gap hasn’t budged in 50 years, by Brad Plumer, The Washington Post
“‘Indeed,’ notes EPI, ‘black America is nearly always facing an employment situation that would be labeled a particularly severe recession if it characterized the entire labor force. From 1963 to 2012, the … annual black unemployment rate averaged 11.6 percent. This was… higher than the average annual national unemployment rate during the recessions in this period — 6.7 percent.’”
5. Who would benefit the most from an increase in the minimum wage? The answer, by a large margin, is women.
Minimum Wage Workers Largely Live In The South, Are Women, by Jan Diehm and Jillian Berman, The Huffington Post
“For most low-wage workers, the federal minimum wage, which stands at $7.25, isn’t enough to make ends meet. Even in Hanson County, South Dakota, America’s cheapest county, a single full-time worker needs to earn $10.20 per hour — nearly $3 more than the federal minimum wage — to afford basic needs.
That’s why many of these workers have been the subject of battles in the streets of New York City, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, the halls of Congress and more. But many Americans don’t actually know who they are.”
If you have a story that needs to be shared, let us know! Leave a link in the comments or send us a Tweet at @YWCAUSA.