The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From The Brink is a new report filled with essays and insights about women, work, and poverty. Big stars like Jennifer Garner and Eva Longoria penned pieces about empowering Latinas and supporting parents. LeBron James honored single working mothers, and Beyoncé, advocates for equal pay in a world where working women still earn 77% as much as men. Physician Nadine Burke Harris explains the long-term and toxic impacts that living chronic poverty has on children, and Sheryl Sandberg writes an essay titled, “When Working Women Thrive, We All Thrive.”
One of the most powerful pieces in the thought-provoking (and free!) report comes from writer Barbara Ehrenreich who advocates for a better, and more accurate, way of thinking about poverty. We should not, she says, attribute poverty to bad choices or lack of hard work.
Barbara Ehrenreich writes, “Poverty is not a character failing or a lack of motivation. Poverty is a shortage of money.“
Women living in poverty often work incredibly hard waiting tables, taking care of the elderly, or singing lullabies to other people’s babies so that their moms and dads can bring home a paycheck. (Childcare workers make about $10 per hour on average, a wage that makes it incredibly hard to cover rent, food, and the expenses of these workers own children).
The poverty level for a family of three is just under $20,000, and even the savviest budgeter and coupon clipper would struggle to keep afloat with that income level. Throw in an unexpected expense, like a car repair, and it’s enough to push that family over the edge.
Enhrenreich continues, “It’s time to revive the notion of a collective national responsibility to the poorest among us, who are disproportionately women and especially women of color. Until that happens, we need to wake up to the fact that the underpaid women who clean our homes and offices, prepare and serve our meals, and care for our elderly—earning wages that do not provide enough to live on —are the true philanthropists of our society.”
To download the full report, go here. It’s available free until 11:59 pm on January 15th, so move fast!