Forget 'having it all': Millions of women are on the brink of financial disaster
Although in recent decades women have made historic advances in nearly
all areas of American public life, a staggering number of women across
the country are still teetering on the verge of poverty and economic
disaster, a new report released Sunday shows.
The report, co-authored by
NBC News special anchor Maria Shriver and the Center for American
Progress, takes a wide-angle snapshot of a national economic crisis —
seen through the eyes of women. The key findings paint a portrait of an
estimated 42 million women — and 28 million dependent children — saddled
with financial hardship.
"These are not women who are wondering
if they can 'have it all,'" Shriver wrote in her introduction to the
report. "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
Amid an apparent boom in female empowerment and participation — a
time in which women earn the majority of secondary degrees and represent
more than half of the country's voters — the report says that millions
of women are still struggling on the margins of American society,
bruised by the recent recession and the day-to-day trials of family
Women make up close to two-thirds of minimum-wage
workers in the country — and upwards of 70 percent of those low-wage
workers receive no paid sick days whatsoever, according to the report.
are people who are trying to survive on minimum wage, which is not a
living wage," Shriver said on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday. "The number
one thing that would make the most difference to them is getting sick
days," she added.
All the while, some 40 percent of all American
households with children below the age of 18 include mothers who are
either the only or primary source of income — with the average earnings
of full-time female workers still just 77 percent of the average
earnings of their male colleagues, the report reads.
also presented the results of a survey of 3,500 adults across America
that offers a glimpse into the on-the-ground realities of contemporary
womanhood. Republican and Democratic pollsters worked together to "write
a statistical narrative" of the women who "are an essential part of our
nation's fabric and economy," the report says.
Among the chief findings from survey respondents who are low-income females:
75 percent wish they had devoted more time and energy to education
and career — relative to 58 percent of the general population.
73 percent wish they had made better financial decisions over the
course of their lives — and so did 65 percent of the total survey group.
Low-income women are more likely than men to regret tying the knot when they did — 52 percent versus 33 percent.
And nearly one-third of low-income women with children wish they had postponed having children — or had fewer of them.
And yet despite the discouraging signs of economic gender
inequality, "The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Pushes Back from the
Brink" features a wide range of potential remedies — from prospective
policy initiatives to community programs. The authors of the report say
that turning away from historical injustices and embracing a more
equitable future will boost the U.S. economy.
recommendation that Shriver highlighted on Meet the Press on Sunday was
for women to think of themselves "as providers, not being provided for.
women who responded to the poll said they wished they had stayed in
school longer and Shriver said fathers and husbands need to reinforce
the mindset that women can set themselves up to be breadwinners.
"Men are totally a part of this conversation, in terms of how they
raise their daughters, in terms of how they support their wives and
their partners," she said.
"Leave out the women, and you don't
have a full and robust economy. Lead with the women, and you do,"
Shriver wrote in the report. "It's that simple, and Americans know it."
Shriver will appear on NBC and MSNBC platforms this week to discuss the report.
report — which weaves together the personal stories of working women
with "public, private and personal recommendations that can help
reignite the American Dream for women and their families" — is the third
such document published by the eponymous nonprofit media initiative in
the last five years. The first was focused on the growth of the female
workforce; the second on the Alzheimer's epidemic.
luminaries in government, business, academia and the arts — from former
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to pop star Beyoncé Knowles-Carter —
contributed reflections to the document.
"I have always believed
that women are not victims," Clinton wrote. "We are agents of change, we
are drivers of progress, and we are makers of peace. All we need is a
In a short essay, Beyoncé decried gender inequalities and pay disparities between men and women.
have to teach our boys the rules of equality and respect, so that as
they grow up, gender equality becomes a natural way of life," she wrote.
"And we have to teach our girls that they can reach as high as humanly
Later in the report, Facebook Chief Operating Officer
and "Lean In" author Sheryl Sandberg makes the case for nationwide paid
maternity leave policy and reductions to the skyrocketing cost of child
care, among other policy proposals.
And Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) calls for "more women in office at every level of government."
have to do better," Gillibrand wrote. "That requires demanding better
from our elected leaders, and to me, that means changing the face of
those leaders so that their agendas reflect women's needs."
said that since women make up 54 percent of voters, "women are at the
center of our country," and Democrats and Republicans need to work
together "to modernize our relationships to women.""When women do well,
men do well and the nation does well," Shriver said.
Saturday, January 20 2018 9:37 AM EST2018-01-20 14:37:09 GMT
A bitterly-divided Congress is hurtling toward a government shutdown this weekend in a partisan stare-down over demands by Democrats for a solution on politically fraught legislation to protect about 700,000...More
A bitterly-divided Congress is hurtling toward a government shutdown this weekend in a partisan stare-down over demands by Democrats for a solution on politically fraught legislation to protect about 700,000 younger immigrants from being deported.More