Women's Organization Calls Attention to Domestic Violence
Masiarchin, Paul, Nation's Cities Weekly
More than 300 participants, including low-income women, labor representatives, policy makers and local, state and federal government leaders, gathered in Washington, D.C., on March 6 and 7, to share best practices and plan strategic actions to combat women's poverty across the nation. The conference, "To Promote the General Welfare: Ending Women's Poverty," called for increased collaboration at the local, state, and national levels to promote strategies that reduce women's poverty.
The NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (NOW LDEF), sponsors of the conference, focused on four strategies toward ending women's poverty: job training and good jobs, quality, affordable child care, reproductive rights, and an end to violence against women.
Conference speakers hailed ending women's poverty as a means toward ending childhood poverty and poverty in general. According to 1998 statistics, more than half of all children under 6 years of age who live in single-mother families lived in poverty. Additionally, nearly 60 percent of all workers earning minimum wage salaries are women. Women's poverty in America persists even in this era of a robust national economy.
A call to action included specific recommendations for local government and community leaders to promote poverty reduction by developing improved local labor market data, improving access to transportation and child care, and raising the local standard of compensation for child care workers.
According to conference panelist Heidi Hartman, Director of the Institute for Women's Policy Research, women leaving welfare earn a median wage of only $6.61 per hour. Women are deferentially referred to traditionally low-paying jobs in the service sector including food service and child care. To move more women and children out of poverty, jobs considered women's work" must pay at least a living wage--and more women must be recruited for higher paying jobs including technical positions that are often male-dominated.
This trend is reflected in 1996 Department of Labor figures that calculate median weekly earnings for cashiers, waitresses, and hairdressers between $200 and $300, while those for women rail workers and women electricians were $700 and $800 respectively. …