The State of American Women
Mar 08, 2012
Today marks International Women's Day, a chance each year to celebrate the many advancements women have made and take stock of the overall health and well-being of women. Around the world—and here in the United States—poverty among women remains a pressing issue in need of more attention and more action.
In the United States, here's what the numbers show:
- In 2010, the poverty rate among women rose to 14.5 percent, representing 17.2 million women. While this is slightly lower than the overall national poverty rate of 15.1 percent, it is the highest poverty level for women in 17 years.
- Extreme poverty—defined as those earning below 50 percent of the federal poverty line (about $11,056 a year or less for a family of four) per year—rose 0.4 percent for women to 6.3 percent, the highest level in at least 22 years.
- Black and Hispanic women have disproportionately higher rates of poverty (25.6 percent and 25 percent, respectively)
- 4 out of 10 women heads of household live in poverty.
In this very wealthy nation, such high rates of poverty are appalling. When we fail women, we fail children, families and communities. Public policy can help address higher rates of poverty among women. When parents have access to child care assistance and high quality early education, they can maintain employment knowing their children are in a safe environment while they work. Job training, adult education services, and Pell grants for college, for example, help low-skill, low-income women gain the skills they need to be successful in the work place. Safety net programs can help families make ends meet in this difficult economy as they search for employment or access education and training opportunities.
This year, as we think about women around the world, we should commit to realizing the progress yet to be made for women and families in the United States.