Safety Nets

Women in the United States frequently lack basic services that are taken for granted in many other parts of the world. To be able to live in economic security, they require educational opportunities; paid sick leave; affordable, quality child care and elder care; as well as portable health care and adequate retirement benefits to protect them throughout their lives. While programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Food Stamps are available, they do not go far enough. More robust safety nets are needed to lift and keep women and their families out of poverty.

Why the Farm Bill Needs a Gender Lens

On July 11th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a version of the farm bill that eliminates all nutritional aid to hungry Americans in need, which is provided mainly through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Not since 1973 has Congress separated subsidies to farmers from individuals in need of food security.  At a moment when Congress is seeking substantial changes to SNAP, it is important to ask: Who exactly is affected by changes?


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The Food Assistance Program: A Critical Safety Net for America’s Poor

A recent New York Times editorial states that under the Obama administration the homeless population has remained steady. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 which provided $840 billion as stimulus monies included a $1.5 billion program that providing housing, rental assistance and temporary aid to people who had suddenly become homeless. But the editorial also notes, while conditions might be improving for homeless individuals, things are bleak for families with children. The National Women’s Law Center reported findings that in 2010, over 40 percent of single-mother families were poor; African-American and Hispanic single-mothers families living in poverty were 48 percent and 50 percent respectively.


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Retirement Security: Older Women Remain at Risk

GAO-12-825T, Jul 25, 2012

 

What GAO Found

Over the last decade, working women’s access to and participation in employer-sponsored retirement plans have improved relative to men. In fact, from 1998 to 2009, women surpassed men in their likelihood of working for an employer that offered a pension plan—largely because the proportion of men covered by a plan declined. Furthermore, as employers have continued to terminate their defined benefit plans and switch to defined contribution plans, the proportion of women who worked for employers that offered a defined contribution plan increased. Women’s higher rates of pension coverage may be due to the fact that they are more likely to work in the public and nonprofit sectors and industries that offer coverage, such as health and education.

URL: 
http://gao.gov/products/GAO-12-825T

The Pregnancy Assistance Fund as a Support for Student Parents in Postsecondary Education

The Pregnancy Assistance Fund (PAF) is a competitive grant program created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that provides funding to states and tribes to support programs that provide pregnant and parenting women and girls with supportive services to help them complete high school or postsecondary degrees (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2010a). Only two states, Minnesota and Virginia, have used their PAF grants to provide services related to postsecondary institutions. This fact sheet describes several of the programs and initiatives created by these PAF grantees. Unless otherwise noted, all program information comes from interviews with program officials and staff.

by Rhiana Gunn-Wright (July 2012)

URL: 
http://www.iwpr.org/publications/pubs/the-pregnancy-assistance-fund-as-a-support-for-student-parents-in-postsecondary-education

The State of Women of Color in the United States

Issue brief from the Center for American Progress:

This issue brief examines the state of women of color in the United States at large in regards to four key areas: the workplace wage gap, health, educational attainment, and political leadership. While conversations in the mainstream media would suggest that women of color are a monolithic entity, it is important to note that women of color are a diverse group with a variety of experiences. We offer specific data points on various racial and ethnic groups where available as we present the issues of greatest importance to women of color today, but remember that data are not always available for direct comparisons of different groups of women of color compared to their white counterparts.

 

URL: 
http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2012/07/women_of_color_brief.html

Oceans Apart: The Higher Health Costs of Women in the U.S. Compared to Other Nations, and How Reform Is Helping

An estimated 18.7 million U.S. women ages 19 to 64 were uninsured in 2010, up from 12.8 million in 2000. An additional 16.7 million women had health insurance but had such high out-of-pocket costs relative to their income that they were effectively underinsured in 2010. This issue brief examines the implications of poor coverage for women in the United States by comparing their experiences to those of women in 10 other industrialized nations, all of which have universal health insurance systems. The analysis finds that women in the United States—both with and without health insurance— are more likely to go without needed health care because of cost and have greater difficulty paying their medical bills than women in the 10 other countries. In 2014, the Affordable Care Act will substantially reduce health care cost exposure for all U.S. women by significantly expanding and improving health insurance coverage.

URL: 
http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Publications/Issue-Briefs/2012/Jul/Oceans-Apart-Women.aspx
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