Poverty among women in America

In 2016, around 14.5% of all Americans lived below the poverty line. That is 45 million people in this nation who struggle daily to put food on the table and pay the bills. Out of those 45 million people, single-mothers make up 15.6 million of those households, and around 70% of these people are women and children.

Why are single-mothers, women in general, and children making up such a big percentage of the people in America living in poverty? And why is there not more attention being drawn to this issue? There are a number of reasons for this, one of them being the lack of available education for women and single-mothers who are receiving welfare from the government.

In the article Single Mom and Welfare Woes, a single mother from Boston named Jessica McLeod shares her story about being on welfare and trying to earn a college degree in nursing. McLeod states that she had been through multiple different welfare caseworkers who did not support her being a full time student and encouraged her to work instead. Caseworkers require so much of single-mothers on welfare going to school in order to show that they are going to class as well as working and looking for jobs, and part of that is due to the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. This program requires caseworkers to push single-mothers to get a paying job rather than encouraging them to get a degree. If it were easier for single-mothers on welfare to get a college education, more of them would be able to work in jobs that pay much more and also include benefits for them and their children.

So, it seems like a no brainer that single-mothers should be able to get a degree just like anyone else while on welfare so that they can get a job to support their family and eventually get off welfare. If that is the case, why does the government make it so hard?

The Female Face of Poverty talks about women in America living in poverty. In this article, it is stated that only one out of every 5 households in America right now has a male breadwinner and a female homemaker. This is a drastic difference from the America that we are all ‘used to’. Family dynamics are changing, women are gaining a stronger voice in society, and equal rights for everyone has become a conversation that comes up in my life almost daily.

At the end of this article, the author suggests that women have been dividing ourselves into subgroups such as women who work versus women who stay home to care for children for so long not that we have forgotten how powerful we are when we come together. The author proposes a call to action, saying women are strong and we deserve everything men get, but we have to stand together and fight for it.

While she does make a good point, the women and single-mothers living in poverty and on welfare may not have the ability to stand up for themselves in fear of losing child care or governmental support. The rate of single-mothers and women living in poverty is alarmingly high, and there are not many clear answers as to why that is. Is it not talked about a lot in mainstream media, but poverty in America for women is not a new concept, and perhaps starting a conversation about it could help some of these women in more ways than we will ever know.

References:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/16/poverty-household-income_n_5828974.html

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/08/why-single-moms-struggle-with-college/401582/

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/01/the-female-face-of-poverty/282892/