Women in America are more likely to be poor than men. Over half of the 37 million Americans living in poverty today are women. And women in America are further behind than women in other countries—the gap in poverty rates between men and women is wider in America than anywhere else in the Western world.
The poverty gap between men and women is not inevitable. The gender wage gap has narrowed over the past 30 years as women have gained greater access to education, the labor market, and better paid jobs. Ending women’s poverty and providing better economic opportunities for all women will require specific policy actions to ensure that:
- Women receive the pay they deserve and equal work conditions
- Women have access to higher-paying jobs
- Women in the workforce have affordable child and elder care, as well as access to quality flexible work and paid family leave
- Women receive the support they need through expanded tax credits to help meet the costs of raising their families
- Women receive the contraceptive services they need so that they can plan their families
- Women receive the support and protection they need to leave violent situations while maintaining job and housing stability
The best policy solutions to address women’s poverty must combine a range of decent employment opportunities with a network of social services that support healthy families, such as quality health care, child care, and housing support. Policy objectives must also recognize the multiple barriers to economic security women face based on their race, ethnicity, immigration status, sexuality, physical ability, and health status. These approaches must promote the equal social and economic status of all women by expanding their opportunities to balance work and family life.
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