One-third of American women are living at or near the brink of poverty.
That's one of the key findings from The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink, a new report coauthored by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress. The report features extensive research on women's roles in the economy as well as personal essays from Beyoncé Knowles, Hillary Clinton, Eva Longoria and LeBron James.
According to the report, 42 million women and the 28 million children who depend on them are living at less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line -- equivalent to an annual income of $47,000 supporting a family of four.
In the introduction, Shriver explains that these dire circumstances are due to a confluence of cultural and economic factors:
These are not women who are wondering if they can "have it all." These are women who are already doing it all -- working hard, providing, parenting, and care-giving. They're doing it all, yet they and their families can't prosper, and that's weighing the U.S. economy down.
Three critical factors contributing to women's poverty are:
- Women are more likely than men to work in "pink-collar" service or caregiving positions, which are usually poorly paid and lack benefits.
- Even though women earn the majority of post high-school degrees, higher education is difficult to obtain.
- Single-parent families are increasingly common. According to the report, "more than half of the babies born to women ages 30 and younger are born to unmarried mothers, most of them white."
As Shriver writes in the report's opening chapter: “Leave out the women, and you don’t have a full and robust economy. Lead with the women, and you do.”
Here's hoping that this new report will lead to tangible change.
The full text of The Shriver Report is available for download on Amazon.com.