On the Unfolding Economic Crisis and Its Disproportionate Impact on Nation’s Most Vulnerable Women and Families

For Immediate Release

Ms. Foundation for Women
Contact: 

esmith@ms.foundation.org
Phone:  212.709.4426 (Office)
512.203.6206 (Mobile)

On the Unfolding Economic Crisis and Its Disproportionate Impact on Nation’s Most Vulnerable Women and Families

Statement of Sara K. Gould, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women

WASHINGTON - Amidst the emphasis on solving the economic
crisis facing Wall Street, the crisis crippling women and their
families on Main Street continues unabated.

"Even at the beginning of the economic downturn, more women than
men, and more African Americans and Latinos than whites, were caught in
the sub-prime mortgage trap. Now that the crisis has escalated, we must
expect that the negative repercussions for women -- especially women of
color -- will escalate as well," notes Sara K. Gould, President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women.

An expert in women's economic development, Ms. Gould has decades of
experience spearheading cutting-edge solutions to promote women's
economic security. She is available to discuss how the plummeting
economy will further threaten millions of women whose lives already
hang in the balance.

Gould, who was just named to the NonProfit Times Top 50 Power and Influence List for her visionary leadership in economic development,
states, "Women in the U.S. are playing with the economic deck stacked
against them. Taking into account longstanding pay inequities,
insidious barriers to employment, record levels of inflation and
ever-increasing childcare expenses, women and their families are
struggling to keep up and get by. For women who confront the additional
barriers of race and class, the obstacles are much greater and the
economic straits even worse.

"The current instability roiling Wall Street's markets will lead to
an increasingly dire economic situation for women. This is especially
true for low-income women, women of color, single mothers and others
who have long experienced the disproportionate impact of flawed
economic policies."

Women faced challenges to their economic security long before the recent turmoil in the stock markets.

  • The gender-wage ratio has not improved since 2001. Women
    are still paid only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. The
    disparity is even greater for women of color: African-American women
    make 62 cents and Latinas make only 53 cents for every dollar of male
    earnings. [1]
  • Women comprise the majority of low-wage workers: Women accounted for 68.2% of minimum-wage and below-minimum-wage workers in 2007. [2]
  • Most poor Americans are women and children, with women comprising a full 39%, children, 35%; and men, 26%. [3]
  • Accounting for 37% of families in poverty, the poverty rate for single female-headed households is higher than any other demographic group. [4]

The current economic downturn will impact low-income women and their families the hardest, and drive even more into poverty.

  • Already, the sub-prime mortgage crisis is taking a higher toll on women -- especially women of color.
    32% of women hold sub-prime mortgages vs. 24% of men; and African
    American and Latino homeowners were 30% more likely to have received
    sub-prime loans. [5]
  • Poverty rates increase during economic downturns. With the
    increasing costs of even basic necessities of food, transportation and
    energy, the number of poor families is growing. [6]
  • Once a family has fallen into it, poverty is difficult to escape. An estimated 60% of families that are in the bottom fifth of income remain there a decade later. [7]

Ms. Gould continues, "Across the U.S., women are too
well-acquainted with poverty and economic insecurity. Because they know
these challenges personally, however, they are often best positioned to
develop the most effective strategies to address them.

"Women must be better represented at policy tables; their
perspectives and leadership are crucial to bring about long-term
economic stability and well-being -- for women, families and
communities. So as we hold key members of the public and private sector
accountable for our country's worsening economic disaster, let's turn
to women driving change at local, state and national levels for
economic-justice solutions."

About Sara K. Gould: Ms. Gould is a national authority on
women's economic development and economic security, and a
groundbreaking innovator in philanthropy. Ms. Gould was named to the NonProfit Times
2008 Top 50 Power and Influence List for her visionary leadership in
advancing women's economic security, in particular her founding of the
Collaborative Fund for Women's Economic Development, a pioneering
grant-making initiative which leveraged over $10 million in the field
of women's microenterprise development in the United States.

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Founded in 1973, the Ms. Foundation for Women is the first and leading women's fund and the foundation engaged across the United States to build women's collective power to ignite change. It provides strategic grantmaking and capacity-building support to over 150 grassroots and national advocacy organizations working to bring about policy and culture change across the broad areas of economic justice, women's health, ending violence and building democracy. In August 2008, Raise the Floor: Wages and Policies that Work, a book published and co-authored by the Ms. Foundation in 2001, was named to Bill Moyers Journal's "Become a More Engaged Citizen" Book List. It outlines a number of policies designed to increase economic security for low-income women and low-wage workers that have gained traction during this election cycle.

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