The Shriver Report was released a few weeks ago, and it's receiving a lot of well-deserved attention. You may have recently heard an increased discussion on what our country is doing and not doing for women. I was especially pleased to hear President Obama incorporate the issue of equal pay for equal work in the State of the Union address last week, cleverly calling out "workplace policies that belong on a Mad Men episode."
So, here's a recap of the Shriver Report as it relates to women. One in three American women live at or below the poverty level. One third ultimately correlates to 42 million women and 28 million children. While women have generally moved ahead with each decade, a female employee will still only make 77 cents on the dollar compared to her male counterpart. Additionally, two thirds of minimum wage workers are women, who are working in jobs that come without additional benefits. Take, for instance, the birth of a child or missing work due to a sick kiddo. For millions of hardworking women, missed days are taken without the compensation that much of America has grown to rely on as an expected benefit. Sadly, missing work due to family medical obligations oftentimes means a termination slip if the worker is deemed dispensable by her employer. When polled, 54% believe the harder they work, the more they fall behind. Simply said, a third of American women are navigating their way through each day on a proverbial tightrope, without a net to catch them if their car needs tires, if their child has health issues, or an unexpected winter brings an exorbitant heating bill.
So, what is the answer? The main recommendations are what you would expect. Education is one of the main tickets to having a chance at moving beyond a minimum wage job, and finding financial and professional security. Family planning is right up there, too. In other words, having a child before you have completed your education and are financially stable, is a gigantic determining factor in the path you will likely follow.
The report also contains several chapters written by well known celebs. Some write about personal experiences, and others pen heartfelt articles on issues that they have passionately embraced. Such as the sexual abuse of women in our military and human trafficking. I was pleased to see both of these issues included in the recent report, as they are subjects I too feel passionate, and have written about on several occasions.
It is a valuable collection of data, and insight that we should not turn away from because it is difficult to digest. The positive take away is that from those polled, over 60% of struggling Americans feel optimistic about their future, and believe their situation will eventually improve.
Congress is currently debating the issue of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. While it may seem nominal to you, it will make a significant difference to millions of hardworking Americans. If this issue resonates with you, call or email your legislators and voice your opinion.