28 July 2008

Sara Gould Calls for Policy Reform for Women, Families in NYT Letter to the Editor

In a letter to the editor in today's New York Times, Ms. Foundation President and CEO Sara K. Gould responds to last week's article, "Women Are Now Equal as Victims of Poor Economy."

After years of increasing participation in the work force, women, you report, have reached a much less desirable milestone: a fall in the percentage who are working. But contrary to the suggestion that women are now on par with men because they're leaving the work force at similar rates, we know that women have always lagged well behind in good times and bad.

This is especially true for low-income women and women of color who face multiple barriers to economic security: race, gender and class.

Today, despite decades of struggle for job access and pay equity, women are paid 77 cents for each dollar a man makes; the disparity is worse for African-American women, who earn 62 cents, and Latinas, who earn 53 cents.

Nearly 10.5 million women are single parents (as compared with 2.5 million single fathers). For them, opting out for any reason — like motherhood or education — is not viable.

Already disadvantaged by years of workplace and legislative failures, women and their families face an increasingly insecure future if policies are not adjusted to meet their ever more pressing needs.
Simply put, while women's decline in workforce participation may be new, women's economic insecurity is not--in good economic times or bad, as the letter above says. So, with the economic crisis worsening day by day, let's call on our policymakers to rely on the solutions and leadership of those experiencing the crisis most acutely: low-income women and women of color. Given the spiraling state of affairs, they can't afford not to listen.

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