Poor women and children in America #MadeVisible

“What Kind of Country Creates 40 Million Poor People?”

– Dr. Julianne Malveaux, President of Bennett College

@drjatbennett (#MadeVisible 3/18/2012)

After spending some time in New York City to attend the Made Visible panel on Women and Children in Poverty, I had a lot to think about in the realm of woman and children in poverty and how it impacts the viability of our nation’s workforce. The panelists include: Nely Galán, Founder, The Adelante Movement; Dr. Julianne Malveaux, economist and president, Bennett College; Suze Orman, America’s leading authority on personal finance; Hilda Solis, 25th United States Secretary of Labor; Cecelia FireThunder, former president, Oglala Sioux Tribe; Faye Wattleton, former national president of Planned Parenthood; Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers; and Sheryl WuDunn, Pulitzer Prize–winning writer and co-author of Half the Sky with New York Times columnist Nicolas Kristoff.

Consider the following statistics:

  • Between 1990 and 2010, Congressional wealth, excluding home value, rose from $250,000 to $750,000, a threefold increase.
  • During the same time period, the average American saw wealth remain steady at $20,000, excluding home value.
  • Since 2007, median household income has dropped 6.4 percent. White income was $54,620, African American income $32,068; Latino, $37,759, and Asian American, $64,308.
  • Households headed by women had median income of $35,091 in 2007; it dropped to $32,031 in 2010.
  • Forty-five million Americans, 14 percent of the population, receive food stamps. Half of the recipients are White.
  • Children are 24.4 percent of the population, but they account for 35.5 percent of those in poverty.

The statistics paint a very clear message:

By neglecting two of the most greatest Human Resources our country has to offer – Women and Children, our collective American Labor Force has not been able to grow and strengthen of our nation’s economy.

What does this mean for our future? I came up with the following questions based on quotes from the event. I’ll provide my commentary in part two of this series called “Pride and Poverty.”

How do we strengthen our workforce by restricting funds for education? 

“Teachers everyday see poverty first hand. We have to have short term and long term strategies

[to improving our education system].”

“The 40% acheivement gap between rich and poor in education is double that of the gap between whites and blacks”

– Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers (@rweingarten)

What role should politics play in the protecting the civil and health care rights of all women in America?

“Women’s rights should not depend on who is in office.”

– Faye Wattleton, former national president of Planned Parenthood

“The gap of poverty between men and women in this country is wider than anywhere else in the western world.”

– Sheryl WuDunn, Journalist, Author of Half The Sky: How to Change the World  (@WuDunn)

Statistically, women live longer than men so how does pay discrepancy benefit our national economy?

“There is an 80 cents on the dollar earning gap between women and men.”

-U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis (@HildaSolisDOL)

If you’re in poverty in America, is there any way out? Are there glass ceilings?

“In South Dakota, being poor has been multi-generational”

– Cecilia Fire Thunder, Tribal leader of the Oglala Sioux

“[In America] there is a highway into poverty but not even a sidewalk out.”

“I [still] have to fight and beg and scratch for everything I create.”

– Suze Orman, Emmy Award Winning TV Show Host (@SuzeOrmanShow)

“Latinas never see themselves as stuck in poverty. Poverty is a transitional thing.”

– Nely Galán, Founder of The Adelante Movement

What are your thoughts?