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Change is Gonna Come: Women’s Leadership, Effecting Change Avis A. Jones-DeWeever, Ph.D. Institute for Women’s Policy Research www.iwpr.org UMBC Women’s.

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Presentation on theme: "Change is Gonna Come: Women’s Leadership, Effecting Change Avis A. Jones-DeWeever, Ph.D. Institute for Women’s Policy Research www.iwpr.org UMBC Women’s."— Presentation transcript:

1 Change is Gonna Come: Women’s Leadership, Effecting Change Avis A. Jones-DeWeever, Ph.D. Institute for Women’s Policy Research www.iwpr.org UMBC Women’s Leadership Summit Baltimore, Maryland

2 A Time For Change… Increasing Poverty in America Increasing Hunger in America Increasing Housing Insecurity Increasing Number of Uninsured Americans Across The Board, Women Impacted Disproportionately

3 America’s Growing Poverty Problem Even though many were awakened to America’s poverty problem during the Katrina crisis, the fact is that poverty had been on the rise for years 2004 represented the 4 th consecutive year of increasing poverty in America, which now stands at roughly 37 million people across the nation Represents a 5.4 million person increase over the number who were poor in the year 2000

4 America’s Growing Poverty Problem Not only are more poor, but many live in deep poverty Over 40% of the poor live in dire poverty with incomes 50% or below that of the official poverty line The average poor person today finds her income further below the poverty line than at any other time since this statistic was first recorded—thirty years ago.

5 Who are America’s Poor? The Face of Poverty in America Overwhelmingly Women and Children Disproportionately People of Color Disproportionately Families led by single mothers

6 Poverty’s Domino Effect Rising Food Insecurity In 2004, some 38 million Americans were food insecure On any one day during that year, between 614,000-854,000 households in the nation had one or more families members who went hungry because they could not afford food Households headed by women raising children on their own were most likely to go without

7 Poverty’s Domino Effect Rising Housing Insecurity In 2001, some 95 million people—a third of the nation’s population—experienced housing insecurity (e.g. high cost burden, overcrowding, poor quality, or homelessness) Housing costs have risen faster than incomes for the past 40 years Most negatively effected are low to moderate income families, especially those supported by a single wage- earner As a result, female-headed families account for 76% of those in public housing, and 84% of those relying on housing assistance via Section 8 vouchers

8 Poverty’s Domino Effect Health Care Coverage Decreasing Today, roughly 46 million people without health insurance Includes the poor, working class, and many middle class families that just can’t keep up with the skyrocketing cost of premiums Exorbitant medical bills is the leading cause of bankruptcy in the country

9 Poverty’s Domino Effect Health Insurance Coverage Critical to Women As the reach of Medicaid coverage has weakened, many single mothers ultimately go without Critical job-stability factor for low-wage women Low income women with employer-provided health insurance in their own name are nearly three times more likely to stay on the job than her counterparts without such insurance

10 Why Women are Disproportionately Impacted Clustered in Low-Wage Work Women fill the majority of minimum wage jobs (60%) Today, the real value of the minimum wage is at it’s second lowest point since 1955 A single mother of two, working 40 hours per week, 52 weeks out of the year at minimum wage earns only $10,712 before taxes, putting her nearly $5,000 below the poverty line and squarely within the ranks of the working poor. Most such jobs fail to offer even the most basic benefits like retirement plans, health care coverage, and access to paid sick leave IWPR has found that nearly half (47%) of US workers do not have access to even one day of paid sick leave, accounting for some 59 million workers, and over 80% can’t take a paid day off of work to care for an ill child or other family member. Women are particularly vulnerable to this lack of coverage, given their prevalence in both low wage and part-time work, two areas that are notorious for its failure in the provision of sick leave.

11 Why Women are Disproportionately Impacted Stuck to the Floor Women are more likely then men to remain in the low wage sector for the long term— 15 years or more Wage Gap Persists Women still earn less than men do, now earning about 76 cents for every dollar a man brings home

12 Why Women are Disproportionately Impacted More Likely to Care for Children Women head 10 million of the nation’s 12 million one-parent family groups They are more likely then men to head families with more than one child And more like likely to care for disabled children Even within two-parent homes, time lost from work for maternity leave, and other subsequent parental responsibilities further reduces women’s earnings over time, leaving her at greater risk of poverty in retirement

13 America’s Silent Crisis Yet, as the depth and breadth of poverty, food, housing, and health care insecurity has grown over the years, efforts to address these challenges have declined. In response to the recession of 2001, many states substantially reduced services for those in need, impacting critical areas such as child care assistance, Medicaid coverage, and job training, etc.

14 Inside America’s Silent Crisis At the Federal Level the response has been even worse Many programs meant to address these and other problems which disproportionately impact women have already undergone severe cuts or are currently at risk of being cut.

15 Inside America’s Silent Crisis Health Care Medicaid already cut by roughly $7 billion, and currently facing the threat of an additional $36 billion in cuts The result—significant premium increases for those least likely to have the ability pay Defacto roll reduction Medicare facing a proposed $105 billion cut, putting at risk the 43 million seniors and disabled Americans who rely on this coverage Would require participants, many of whom already live on strained, fixed budgets, to pay higher premiums Defacto roll reduction

16 Inside America’s Silent Crisis Cuts in Child Support Enforcement Expected to result in $8.4 billion in lost revenue for single-parent families, many of whom already struggle to make ends meet Cuts in Child Care Assistance According to a study by the National Center for Children in Poverty, 40% of poor, single, working mothers who paid for child care in 2001, paid at least half of their cash income for that care, another 25% paid over 40% of their income for child care The proposed cuts would mean over 600,000 fewer children will be covered through child care assistance than was the case back in 2000

17 Inside America’s Silent Crisis Cuts to Food Assistance Programs $656 million in proposed cuts to food stamps, expected to decrease the rolls by over 300,000 people Also proposed is the elimination of a food delivery program for seniors, pregnant women, and women with infants, impacting some 470,000 people

18 Inside America’s Silent Crisis Cuts in Housing Assistance Roughly $220 billion dollars in proposed cuts disproportionately impacting women, the elderly, and the disabled Cuts to Job Training Programs Total cuts of over $1.2 billion Includes the elimination of a program specifically geared toward training women for high-wage non-traditional jobs

19 Inside America’s Silent Crisis Continued Cuts to Higher Education Recently passed cuts to student loans will result in increased fees and rates to families Currently proposed is the elimination of the Perkins loan program which target low- income families and the freezing of the Pell Grant award at only $4,050 Such cuts are especially critical to women who are more likely to need a college degree in order to obtain above poverty- level wages

20 It’s Time for A Change

21 Need More Women in Elected Offices Although women make up just over half of the nation’s population, women account for only a fraction of those in political leadership Only 14 of the mayors of the nation’s 100 largest cities are women (14%) Only 9 Governors are women (16%) Women currently hold 14 seats in the Senate and 66 seats in the House, accounting for only 80 of the 535 members of Congress 15% overall representation in Congress

22 Need More Women in Elected Offices Women of Color In Elected Office Across the nation, only 8 women of color serve as a mayor of a major city None have served as Governor Currently, none serve in the U.S. Senate Only 18 serve in the House, accounting for just 3.4% of the entire Congressional Membership

23 Need More Women in Elected Offices As of 2003, America ranked 61 st in the world in terms of women’s representation in a national legislature or parliament out of over 180 surveyed countries Puts US behind such countries as: China Rwanda Singapore Iraq Afghanistan At the current rate, it will take US women 91 years to achieve equality of representation in Congress

24 Why Women in Office is Important Women tend to be more active than men in reshaping policy agenda once elected to office Women are more likely to opt for government in public view rather than behind closed doors Women tend to be more responsive to groups previously denied full access to the policymaking process And across the political spectrum, women elected officials are more active on issues of concern to women

25 Why More Women Don’t Run Many women don’t feel they have the time Many don’t believe they’re qualified Women don’t enjoy access to the same political pipelines that nurture and develop male candidates And often times when they do run, they don’t receive the same support from the party establishment

26 Yet, the Potential is There With only the exception of Pennsylvania, women are more likely than men to register to vote in every state in the nation Women are more likely than men to actually make it to the polls on election day in all but seven states Hawaii Kentucky New Jersey North Dakota Oklahoma Pennsylvania South Dakota

27 Untapped Potential Many women still fail to get involved Unmarried women, specifically, are the nation’s least likely to group to participate in politics Yet, they represent the fastest-growing large demographic in the nation today

28 Untapped Potential Women have both the numbers and the ability to spur change, but in order to do it, it will also take action

29 Where We Go From Here Develop our own leadership pipelines, from the grassroots on up The White House Project The Wellstone Institute When women run, other women need to support them We need to encourage girls and young women to pursue political ambitions and to do so early on A 2003 survey of women top elected officials found that more than half were elected before the age of 35.

30 Where We Go From Here We need to exploit the changing dynamics of an electorate, one that is now more than ever, indicating a willingness to vote for women candidates A Recent Gallup survey found that 70 percent of Americans said they would vote for a women for president in 2008 And most (57%) said the country would be governed better if more women were in political office

31 Believe in Our Ability to Create Change


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