Countless Women Age In Poverty And It’s A Bad Look On Society, Here’s Something You Can Do
I was having a casual conversation with a girlfriend when she blurted out, “I don’t know if you know this, but something like 76% of divorced women die in poverty.” The number seemed astonishing, and I wondered if there was any truth to it.
Although I haven’t been able to locate the exact statistics she raised, the writing appears to be on the wall for our aging and single population. At the height of the pandemic, I was speaking to a relative about what seemed to be a disregard for the elderly. “Are we supposed to have a country without grandparents?” she said. That question was a turning point for me. It was a question that forced me to look outside of the comfortable bubble I inhabited with my own family, with us cooking together, playing in the yard, and curling up to movies without regard for my single and aging relatives. Family members who may have never been used to solitude were now indefinitely confined within their four walls. It’s traumatizing. Now consider being isolated and living in poverty; it becomes even more devastating.
In today’s world, we are inundated with countless images and hashtags of #bosschicks, #badbitches, and #luxurylife, all laid at the altar of youth. It’s easy to forget that somewhere outside of social media are multitudes of women who took a wrong turn, experienced a bad season, experienced a divorce, fled an abusive relationship, or were never able to regain footing in the workforce. All of which had a domino effect on their circumstances and left them penniless. Who is responsible for them?
In 2018, Justice in Aging, an organization that helps fight senior poverty, released a special report on Older Women and Poverty. The report identifies some of the factors that lead to older women finding themselves in these circumstances. Marital Status was a big one. Frankly, marital status should never be a determinant to living a quality life or if you are destined to live out your end years with dignity, but it is. There are pay gaps, and they’re divided along color lines and are ubiquitously still less than men. Our current system is antiquated and perpetuates dependence, but it does not foster interdependence.
We need to cultivate a culture that promotes interdependence and doesn’t simply create more dependence.
This should raise a red flag for anyone that values marriage and relationships. Women may like to surrender but not be dependent, and society makes it difficult. Today young women are career-focused, and yet they still want relationships. They often put them on hold until later because financial security is a big part of their decision. Additionally, if you were raised by a single mother and watched her struggle or your mother was divorced and now working until she is 80, this is a problematic visual. In doing so, women lose time, some relationships suffer, and overall, the idea of the family ends up suffering as well.
Interdendence vs. Dependence
The solution is not to add additional supplemental programs that keep things as they are but to shift our attitudes. We need to cultivate a culture that promotes interdependence and doesn’t simply create more dependence. Relationships don’t have to stay together for money if they don’t want to. We can do that with education and by continuing to pursue pay equity. The biggest con is that money doesn’t matter or it’s evil — tell that to the person who signs your paycheck.
One of the ways we succeeded in this area as a country was by putting a little money in everyone’s pocket. Raise your hand if you are a parent, and you appreciated that monthly child care tax credit?
It really made a difference. As a mom, I was able to focus on my studies while keeping an eye on my kids and their education — right from home. I do this because I know it’s all an investment that raises up a generation that respects sacrifices and cares for the elderly.
In other words, we need to re-teach citizens how to fish and to think differently.
This doesn’t happen solely through social programs but by refocusing society on duty, responsibility, and to reach for things beyond instant gratification. If we knew that we would have to grow up and take care of those who cared for us one day, we might approach life differently.
Now you may be wondering how you can help. First, you can share this article and click on the “child care tax credit” link and sign the petition. Next, you can pass along the videos so that they can help someone understand how they can get social security benefits if they are divorced or separated and of retirement age.