Based on available research, it is clear that while the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been a largely successful social investment, it has not been sufficient to meet the needs of vulnerable Americans, particularly low-income women and women of color. ARRA may have created or saved three million jobs, but unemployment remains high, especially for communities of color and single mothers, and Census data indicate that poverty levels have reached an historic high. And there is still so much that is unknown. More research is needed to evaluate the impact of ARRA funding on low-income women of all ages, especially women of color, and their families.
Forbes: Women's World Banking (WWB), a global network of 40 microfinance institutions and banks in 28 developing countries is moving into a broad array of products and services for women, including savings, insurance and financial education. Currently WWB is moving away from the traditional microfinance model of loans toward sponsoring research on the use of mobile phone technology and ATMs as ways to provide low-income women with banking services.
" Women's World Banking (WWB), is a global network of 40 microfinance institutions and banks in 28 developing countries. Committed to the "double bottom line" of financial returns and social progress, WWB offers credit, insurance and savings products that enable low-income women to build assets, guard against risk and provider better opportunities for their children. In the process, WWB enables its partners in microfinance to evolve from donor-dependent charities into self-sustaining financial institutions. 'We know the poor can be economically savvy about juggling what little they have,' Iskenderian noted during a presentation at the recent 14th Annual Wharton Leadership Conference, whose theme was "Leading in a Recovering (and Even Rebounding) Economy." 'When someone trusts low-income women with capital, often for the first time, they can become agents of their own change.'
In 2008 Women's World Banking released a widely cited survey showing that if microfinance groups did not specifically target women, the percentage of female clients dropped sharply as the microfinance institutions evolved from donor-funded charities to regulated financial institutions. The phenomenon is called 'mission drift,' and it occurs when organizations shift their focus toward higher-income (and supposedly less risky) clientele and away from low-income customers, which in many developing countries means women. Iskenderian wants everyone to recognize the damage, unintended or not, caused by mission drift. Recently a WWB publication uncovered another effect that hurts women: As organizations shift their focus to for-profit services, a marked decline occurs in the number of female staff members who might better understand the needs of women entrepreneurs.
To illustrate this aspect of mission drift, WWB developed a tool called the Organizational Gender Assessment, which was launched with a large microfinance institution in Bangladesh called ASA. The OGA uncovered policies that clearly affected mothers employed at ASA, such as a requirement that staff members at all branch offices work late into the night managing loan recovery and overdue payments."
National Women's Law Center: The poverty rate for women has risen to almost 14%, according to a study of 2009 Census data conduceted by the National Women's Law Center. Poverty rates were much higher for women of color and single mothers. On the upside, the poverty rate did decline for older Americans, including elderly women living alone. Analysis also reveals gaps in health care coverage and wages between men and women. The organization is pressing Congress to make changes to assist the vulnerable population of women living in poverty.
"The poverty rate for women rose to 13.9 percent last year, the highest rate in 15 years, according to a National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) analysis of 2009 Census data released today. Over 16.4 million women were living in poverty, including nearly 7 million women in extreme poverty, with incomes below half of the federal poverty line. Poverty among men also rose in 2009, to 10.5 percent from 9.6 percent in 2008, but remained substantially lower than among women.
For some women, the analysis reveals an even bleaker picture. Poverty rates were substantially higher for women of color, approaching one in four among African-American women (24.6 percent compared to 23.3 percent in 2008); Hispanic women experienced a similar increase from 22.3 percent in 2008 to 23.8 percent last year. Nearly four in ten single mothers (38.5 percent) lived in poverty in 2009, up from 37.2 percent in 2008. More than 15.4 million children lived in poverty last year, a spike of nearly 1.4 million. Over half of poor children lived with single mothers in 2009.
'When over 16 million women are struggling to pull themselves and their families out of poverty, it’s insulting for Congress to consider spending hundreds of billions of dollars to give tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans,' said NWLC Co-President Nancy Duff Campbell. 'Congress should focus on measures to create jobs and help hard-pressed families, not millionaires.'
In addition, the wage gap between median earnings for men and women remained as wide as in 2008. Women working full-time, year-round in 2009 were paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. 'The wage gap makes it more difficult for families relying on women’s wages to achieve and maintain economic security,' said NWLC Co-President, Marcia D. Greenberger. 'The Senate must pass the Paycheck Fairness Act in the current session to close the wage gap and secure fair pay for women.'
Check out the latest from NCRW Senior Fellow and Executive Director of the Women of Color Policy Network at NYU Wagner, Nicole Mason:
According to the U.S. Census, there are enough new poor people in the U.S. to fill the New York Yankees Stadium more than six times over. And since the start of the recession in 2007, over six million have slipped into poverty--that's more than twice the size of the city of Chicago. This is not a simply a case of the poor sliding deeper into poverty, but of individuals straddling the line between middle class stability and poverty falling over the edge.
CNN: Due to the economic recession, the number of babies being born in the United States has dropped 2.6 percent. Some women will choose to have babies in the future when the economy recovers, while others will not have children at all.
"The number of babies born in the United States dropped 2.6 percent last year, according to a recent study, the latest in a long list of falling indicators.
The news is not surprising, said Andrew Cherlin, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University, given the sad state of the American economy right now. "The birth rate is falling because of the Great Recession. When people are unsure of their financial future, they tend to postpone having children," Cherlin told CNN.
Some of the women postponing having children now will have them later, Cherlin said, while others never will. During the Great Depression in the 1930s, roughly 20 percent of women never had children -- a percentage that Cherlin predicts the United States will hit again."
USA Today: Unmarried, childless women under 30 who live in urban areas are currently earning salaries up to 8% higher than those of men in their peer group. Wages are going up for this select group due to a growing knowledge-based economy, the decline of a manufacturing base and an increasing minority population. These women are delaying marriage and motherhood, and often live at home with their parents, instead of investing in real estate. Sadly, the rest of working women--especially those who are married and not living near a major city, are still on the lower end of the wage divide.
"Single, childless women in their twenties are finding success in the city: They're out-earning their male counterparts in the USA's biggest metropolitan areas.
Women ages 22 to 30 with no husband and no kids earn a median $27,000 a year, 8% more than comparable men in the top 366 metropolitan areas, according to 2008 U.S. Census Bureau data crunched by the New York research firm Reach Advisors and released Wednesday. The women out-earn men in 39 of the 50 biggest cities and match them in another eight.
However, it isn't true for all women in their 20s working full time — overall, they earn 90% of what all men in their 20s make — just for those who don't marry or have kids.
Education is the key: "Young women are going to college in droves," Reach Advisors reports. "Nearly three-quarters of girls who graduate from high school head to college, vs. two-thirds of the boys. But they don't stop there. Women are now 1.5 times more likely than men to graduate from college or earn advanced degrees." Armed with degrees, young women command higher salaries.
The trend is especially apparent in cities where minority groups make up more than half the population. Among blacks and Hispanics, women are more than twice as likely as men to earn college degrees"
Independent: British women are going bankrupt at an alarming rate--an over 28 per cent increase in the past year alone. While some argue that women are irresponsible with their money, and have incurred debt maintaining lavish lifestyles, women's rights advocates argue that women earn less and have other factors to contend with, including career breaks to care for children and lower overall earning potential.
"Female insolvency was once hardly spoken of but now women are also taking up other official debt resolutions, such as debt relief orders (DROs) and individual voluntary agreements (IVAs).
"These figures show that more and more young women have levels of debt incurred through trying to maintain lifestyles that are unsustainable," says Graham Horne, deputy chief executive of the Insolvency Service. "It is critical that all young people are aware of the impact that irresponsible spending can have. Filing for bankruptcy or obtaining a debt relief order should be viewed as a last resort."
Women's rights organisations have countered that, far from being profligate or financially illiterate, they simply "earn less, own less and have lower earning potential" than men. Experts have pointed to the effects on finance of divorce – after which women are overwhelmingly left poorer than men – single motherhood and career breaks to look after children.
The Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS), a debt advice charity, believes women have now overtaken men in the bankruptcy stakes; 51 per cent of the people it recommended bankruptcy to in 2009 were female. Overall, male bankruptcies rose by 18 per cent in 2009.
"One thing that stands out is that 58 per cent of women made bankrupt are between the ages of 25 and 44. They are the ones who are spending and incurring credit card debt," says Nigel Millar, business recovery partner with the accounting service Baker Tilly LLP. "Females have much more control than they used to over their own finances; however, they are getting more credit and incurring the consequences."
Research by the Equal Opportunities Commission in 2004 found that breaks from work to care for children or relatives accounted for 14 per cent of the pay gap. "Women typically earn less, own less, and have lower earning potential," says Anna Bird, head of policy and campaigns at the Fawcett Society. "When it comes to rising unemployment, women who lose their jobs are less likely than men to have savings, so they become dependent on benefits more quickly."