Sojourners campaigns assistant Anna Hall posted a great piece last week de-bunking 5 myths about the minimum wage. One of these myths — that most minimum wage workers are suburban teenagers — was countered by the facts: nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers are adult women.
Don’t think of a suburban teenager — think of a single mother working full time while trying to raise her children, care for her family, and make enough to pay rent, probably without any paid sick or personal days (not to mention maternity leave). Could you do that on $15,000 a year?
On Jan. 13, Maria Shriver – who, in addition to her many accomplishments, is the daughter of the statesman widely regarded as the architect of the “War on Poverty” — released a report focusing on the needs of women in the current economy. Some statistics from the report came to light last week in an Atlantic piece:
- Women are nearly two-thirds of minimum-wage workers in the country.
- More than 70 percent of low-wage workers get no paid sick days at all.
- Forty percent of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income.
- The median earnings of full-time female workers are still just 77 percent of the median earnings of their male counterparts.
Shriver says, “Many of these women feel they are just a single incident — one broken bone, one broken-down car, one missed paycheck — away from the brink. And they’re not crazy to feel that way.” According to a promotional video, one in three women lives in poverty or is on the brink of poverty.
Read that again: one in three women in America is living in poverty or is on the brink of poverty.
God created us male and female and said it was good, but America is ensuring that it is pretty bad to be a woman. If the world God envisions is open to everyone, then we need to do our part to make sure that women (over half the population), are just as able to succeed as men.
After all, women worldwide are shut out of their economies, education systems, and political spectrum. If we want to be serious about lifting up women in developing countries, we need to be serious about creating a society in which our own women can thrive.
There are many solutions to this problem — an ongoing conversation about #WhatWomenNeed has highlighted minimum wage increase, paid sick leave, mandatory maternity leave, flex time to take care of children, supportive communities and partners, and much, much more.
We at Sojourners are going to be doing more this year to lift up women and press for policies that help them move ahead. Want to join? Start by calling on Congress to make a New Year’s resolution to keep women’s needs in mind as they consider policy issues.
Janelle Tupper is the Online Organizing Associate at Sojourners.