Although 2016 marked several important victories for women, there are still many challenges that American women face in 2017. Learn more about each problem below and join LiveYourDream.org to find out how to be part of the solution.
Sadly, some people think there’s no need for women’s movements anymore. We disagree. There’s still work to be done to make sure that women live free from violence, oppression, and suffering, and can take full advantage of their right to opportunity.
So here are our top 5 challenges that we think women face in the year ahead.
Women Are At Higher Risk of Poverty
We all know poverty is a problem, but did you know it’s especially a problem for women? According to the 2016 U.S. Census Bureau data:
- Women are 35% more likely than men to live in poverty.
- 1 in 8 women lived in poverty in 2015.
- 1 in 3 single mothers lived in poverty in 2015.
- Of the nation’s 14.5 million poor children, more than half live in families headed by women.
Women experience higher rates of poverty because they are more likely to be under-compensated, over-represented in low-wage jobs, and more likely to do unpaid caregiving work. Reducing poverty for women will require us to invest in support systems, employment initiatives, and most importantly, education.
Women Who Need Education Can’t Afford It
Female college graduates actually outnumber male college graduates—but don’t let this fool you. Getting a higher education is still a struggle especially for the most vulnerable and at-risk women including single mothers, women in poverty, and survivors of abuse.
- Only 7% of single moms under 30 have finished college, and most cannot afford a degree now because childcare and housing expenses swallow over half their income.
- A woman who hasn’t graduated college typically earns 67% less per year than a woman with a bachelor’s degree and is more likely to live in poverty, suffer health issues, and die early.
Education is proven as the most effective way to empower women for lifelong success. Not only does education open the door to better employment opportunities, it also teaches a woman to make positive choices that will help her—and her children—live longer and healthier.
Women Are More Likely to Be Victims of Domestic Violence
When mainstream media covers American tragedies, we hear shocking figures like 6,488 American troops were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012. But did you know that 11,766 American women were murdered by a current or ex male partner during that same time? Statistics reveal that story:
- 4 in 5 victims of domestic violence are women.
- Each year, 4.7 million American women experience physical violence by an intimate partner.
- 3 women on average are murdered by a boyfriend or husband each day.
- Domestic violence costs the economy between $10-67 billion each year in health care services and lost worker productivity.
Victims of abuse are more likely to also suffer from poverty and health issues, and are less likely to be educated. Especially horrifying is the fact that abuse starts young—data shows that up to 76% of teens have experienced some form of dating violence. To end this cycle we need to teach healthy relationships early in life and take steps to provide adequate support and resources to victims.
— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) November 13, 2016
Women Are Underrepresented in Politics
Women’s right to vote may be almost 100 years old, but only since the 1970’s have women started regularly showing up on the ballot as political candidates. Today:
- Women make up just 19% of all members of Congress and 25% of state legislators.
- Of 50 state governors, there are only 6 women (that’s 12%).
It’s important to get more women in office so we can fairly represent the interests of the country’s 157 million women.
Women Rape Victims Still Seeking Justice
Rape culture is a problem, as we saw earlier this year in the case of the #StanfordSurvivor, a victim of campus sexual assault whose assaulter walked free after serving just 3 months in jail. As a society, we often fail to treat rape like the serious crime that it is, and we silence survivors by practicing victim blaming, slut-shaming, and “rape-splaining.” According to RAINN:
- Out of every 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free.
- 2 out of 3 rapes are never reported to the police (typically because the victim fears retaliation or that they won’t be believed).
Although we got a new Bill of Rights for Sexual Assault Survivors in 2016, we need to keep the pressure on the government to ensure they uphold their commitment to justice.
PHEW—what a list. There’s a LOT of work to be done!
If it feels overwhelming, remember that awareness is the first step to making change happen. Once we are able to clearly name the problems we face, we can be more strategic about how we start to solve them.
So please share this with others, and join our work at www.LiveYourDream.org/take-action!