The Sources of Living in Poverty for Minority Women
“Poverty is the absence of all human rights. The frustrations, hostility and anger generated by abject poverty cannot sustain peace in any society” (Muhammad Yunus). Poverty has been defined as a relative multidimensional and a dynamic occurrence, which in the United States, females face. Regardless of the many attempts to promote equality between men and women, gender still plays an important role in establishing principles in society. Discrimination is a major issue that affects minority women. It denies them the chances of receiving better education, a better occupations (income), and health services that are affordable to whites or other groups in this country. Discrimination is the key cause of inequality and poverty due to the lack of resources to a better education, lack of better occupation (salaries), and the lack of preventative medicine for women of color.
Education is an essential tool towards a bright future, and in America, the learning results for women of color is more of a role of their inadequate access to educational resources. In America, the learning system is imbalanced and students are vividly receiving different education opportunities based on their skin color and societal status. According to Race Matters: Unequal Opportunities in Education by Annie E. Casey, White students are more likely to be offered many advanced placement classes compared to Black and Latino students. Even though in some cases, the Black and Latino students have the same test scores as the White students, they are denied from the advanced placement classes and put in “low-track academic courses” (Race Matter: Unequal Opportunities in Education, page 3). Women of color who attend schools in low-income communities are taught by teachers that are first year teachers. The teachers who have higher test scores or have an advanced education teach in schools that are high quality such as colleges/universities or teach upper middle class students. Gender is another important role in education. According to the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, “31 million girls of primary school age do not attend school and 17 million of these girls will probably never attend school in their lifetimes” (UNESCO Institute). Education is important, especially for women because most women tend to inherit the poverty of their mothers. These women who inherit the poverty of their mothers are prone to abuse of all forms. When women are not educated, they are more likely to live in poverty. This affects their future and the future of their society. Education is essential to everyone regardless of their race or gender. Equality in educational experiences remains a great challenge and is something that we as a country need to continually improve.
Women make up more than half of America’s population and they are known as America’s poorest group. Women in America are faced with gross inequalities. They are affected by the gender wage gap, which is low employment pay. According to Questions and Answers on Pay Equity by National Committee on Pay Equity, “women of color are still segregated into a small number of jobs such a clerical, service workers, nurses and teachers” (National Committee on Pay Equity). These jobs are still considered to be underpaid due to the race and gender of the employees that hold these positions. Women of color are experiencing considerably less financial security and steadiness throughout their life. Single women are economically at a disadvantage compared to single men because they are receiving less income and have less wealth. According to Strong Financial Future, Black women have about 1.3 percent of the wealth of a single white woman, and Hispanic women have about 0.6 percent of the wealth of a single white woman. The lower wages of colored women are due to lack of education and skills that leads to lower earnings, saving less, and having lower wealth than other groups in America. They also spend more time out of the labor force for caregiving because some come into the workforce already as a mother/single mother. This leads to a higher poverty rate for women because they are unable to acquire wealth as a single mother or as a young mother. With single mothers struggling, the government has aimed to maximize the labor force by supporting these single mothers and trying to make it easier for these single mothers to combine paid work and family life. According to Spector of Slavery Workfare and the Economic Citizenship of Poor Women by Jane L. Collins, Collins states that “women lost their access to many of the normal work benefits due to being “assisted” by the welfare organizations, no matter how many hours a week they labor” (Collins, p 287). Another example Collins gives up in the reading is “The welfare system downgraded and placed skilled women into the least desirable jobs, such as collecting garbage or cutting grass” (Collins, p 290-291). Single mothers have gone in and out of jobs due to low earnings that does not contribute towards the total household income to allow the women’s income to go beyond the poverty line. Women of color experience more poverty because of their unpaid labor, and because of discrimination, women of color have always experienced working in an altered way compared to men in America.
Due to the lack of educational resources to better their education, and the unequal pay with high unemployment rates, women of color are denied access to contraception. In America, the abortion rate for black women is about five times more than that of white women. Not only is the abortion rate for black women high, but also for Hispanic women as well due to unintended pregnancy. These unintended pregnancy rates are reflected because these women live in poverty and lack access to high quality contraception services. Also, women of color do not have access to the usage of contraceptives over a long period of time because they cannot afford it based on their income. When women are denied abortions, this causes issues because these mothers don’t have enough money to cover basic living expenses, transportation to appointments, and food to feed the children. According to Pregnancy and Power by Rickie Solinger, Solinger states “Many middle-class women, most politicians, and others define the good choice maker as the woman who has earned the right to exercise choice properly by having enough money to be a legitimate and proper mother…has less to do with having a husband and more to do with having enough money” (Solinger, p 431). Minority women face difficulties with reproductive rights because of their lack of knowledge and low income to health services. Women who can have a reproductive healthy life can overcome social and economic barriers. Every woman should have the right to their body no matter your class and race status.
The evidence is overwhelming for the fact that our government plays an important role in solving these poverty issues in our society and our country. Poverty is affecting our health, our education, our economy, and our future. These gender wage gaps are hurting women across the country. These gender wage gaps should examine where our economy provided unequal opportunities for women. These issues of poverty in minority women have become the norm and we appear hesitant to address it. We need to take necessary steps to develop health and education sectors to reduce poverty. Women of color have different experiences in education, health, and labor force. This should make us, as a country, more willing to acknowledge these issues that are directly impacting their families and the community.
The Sources of Living in Poverty for Minority Women