Disparities & Access

Many of the health challenges faced by women are a result of insufficient access to basic prevention information, health services and insurance coverage. In the pharmaceutical and health industries, the gender dimensions of diseases and treatments are often overlooked in setting research priorities and developing new products. The availability and quality of health care may vary according to race, income, ability, geographic location or immigration status. In the U.S., finding affordable health insurance is particularly challenging for women, who often pay higher premiums than men. Many insurance companies fail to cover or provide adequate maternity care or essential reproductive health services. Additionally, women experience more part-time and interrupted jobs and careers due to caregiving and family responsibilities and require portable health plans that provide stable coverage.

The Impact of the Global Recession

April 17, 2009 posted by Shyama Venkateswar The Gender Policy Group at Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs organized a lively panel discussion on “Gender, Jobs and This Recession” on Monday, April 13, 2009. I was invited to speak on the panel along with Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Melinda Wolfe, Subha Barry and Heidi Brown. Here are the main points that I addressed: The current economic crisis is unprecedented in terms of its global reach and impact; here’s what the current economic crisis looks like within the United States.

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that current unemployment stands at 13.2 million.
  • 5.1 million jobs have been lost since December 2007.
  • The subprime lending crisis has particularly hit hard women and people of color because of predatory lending practices. NCRW’s research has shown that African American and Latina women borrowers are most likely to receive sub-prime loans at every income level. Women are 32% more likely than men to receive subprime mortgages.
  • In the financial sector, men’s unemployment in Feb was 6.9% while for women it was 6.6%
  • There have been increased reports of women who were secondary breadwinners in their households having to now become primary wage earner because of layoffs.

At the international level, the picture remains pretty grim as well:


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FAST FACT: One-Third of New Yorkers Face Multiple Hardships

March 26, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird And that was BEFORE the recession hit! This week, I attended an amazing presentation by the Community Service Society and the New York Women’s Foundation, “Raising the Voice of Low-Income Women.” The Community Service Society (CSS) presented its 2009 findings for their annual Unheard Third Survey. According to CSS, "the Unheard Third tracks the concerns and hardships of New York City’s low-income residents and their views on what programs and policies would help them get ahead.”  What they found is quite distressing:

54% of low-income mothers in New York City faced 3 or more hardships in 2008.

Hardships include economic (losing a job), food (skipping meals), health (postponing necessary medical care), and housing (falling behind on rent or mortgage payments). Again, this is before the recession really took hold (CSS collected the data in summer 2008).  We can only speculate what next year’s Unheard Third Survey will find.  Between 2007 and 2008, CSS recorded a dramatic increase in hardships among working moms, especially economic and health hardships.


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FAST FACT: Don’t Forget About Health in the Economic Storm

March 12, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird This week is http://www.lgbthealth.net/awarenessweek09/ ">National LGBT Health Awareness week.  In honor of this important week, I wanted to share with you a stat I found from the Big Five Research: 50 percent of uninsured women have dependent children and half of them (54 percent) are employed. Even as much of our energy has been focused these past few months on the economy, I think it is vital we don’t forget about the importance of health!  Which is why the Council features both economic security and health as part of our Big Five Campaign.


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DIVERSITY WRIT LARGE: A Response to So-Called “Post-Racial” America

March 11, 2009 posted by Delores M. Walters* The disproportionate effects of the seized-up economy on citizens of color whether in housing, employment or educational opportunity soundly refutes the idea that “we can put to rest the myth of racism as a barrier to achievement in this splendid country” as the Wall Street Journal claimed one day after Obama’s election. Others take a more moderate stance: “For all our huge progress, we are not “post-racial,” whatever that means. The world doesn’t change in a day, and the racial frictions that emerged in both the Democratic primary campaign and the general election didn’t end on Nov. 4. As Obama himself said in his great speech on race, liberals couldn’t “purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap” simply by voting for him. Perhaps wealth accumulation is the most convincing indicator of racial disparity in America. As Dalton Conley points out, the net worth of African American families is only one-eighth that of White families which is not due to differences in education, earnings or savings rates, but due to the legacy of racial discrimination. Other groups, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, for example, exhibit wealth accumulation rates that mirror the statistics for Blacks, while Cubans mirror those for Whites.


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New Film—Not Yet Rain—Tells the Stories of Women Who Have Sought Abortion Care

March 11, 2009 posted by Kyla Bender-Baird Yesterday, the fantastic international reproductive rights organization, IPAS contacted the Council, announcing the launch of an important new film: Not Yet Rain.  Here’s the scoop:


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ECONOMIC STIMULUS FORUM: Round-Up

March 2, 2009 posted by admin 

Photo Cred: Matt Collins via Society and PoliticsIt is undeniable that we are facing tough economic times.  In January, the unemployment rate registered 7.6% with 11.6 million people lacking jobs.  An additional 7.8 million people are deemed underemployed, that is, working part-time because they cannot find full-time jobs.  And prospects are dimming. According to the Economic Policy Institute , finding a job today is twice as hard as it was when the recession started a year ago.  With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA], however, there is some room for hope. Many of our network members are doing excellent work on the stimulus plan.  The Ms. Foundation held a conference call to discuss the legislative package and how to secure more jobs for women.  The National Women’s Law Center is analyzing the stimulus process and how it affects women and families. Check out their latest breakdown.   In examining the bill, we were particularly struck with provisions regarding small businesses, healthcare, education and, especially, job creation.  Naturally, we had some questions, for example, what other areas are critical for stimulating growth and supporting women and girls, their families and communities? To find the answers, we turned to our experts:


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Women Leaders Across Sectors on Social Justice and Change

March 3, 2009 posted by Deborah Siegel I’m sitting in a very crowded auditorium at 3 World Financial Center, home of American Express, and the sun is pouring in on one of the coldest days of the year. We’re about to be warmed by the annual panel that takes place the afternoon of the National Council for Research on Women’s evening-time gala, the Making a Difference for Women Awards. This year’s panel, “An Immodest Proposal: Advancing a New Era of Social Justice” (kudos on the title, NCRW!) features Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center Marcia Greenberger, Chancellor and President of Syracuse University Nancy Cantor, Accenture / Microsoft / PepsiCo Director Dina Dublon, and Columbia University law professor and Nation columnist Patricia Williams. The Takeaway co-host Adaora Udoji, whose voice I wake up to each morning, will be moderating. There is nothing modest about this crowd of female movers and shakers from corporate, academic, and nonprofit spheres. The NCRW staff—of which I used to be part—has clearly done an excellent job spreading word. It’s a dazzling lineup. Let the conversation begin! Adaora: First question is for Nancy. What can you tell us about advancing a new era of social justice in education? Nancy: The idea of the ivory tower as a monastic place is breaking down. What that means is we have no understanding of the groups we’re leaving behind. How do we level the playing field of education? If we don’t find ways to strengthen our connections to our communities, cities, rural areas, and bring in the population, we’re going to be stagnant. Adaora: Are we seeing that 50% female leadership in education yet? Nancy: No, not at all. What we are seeing at all levels is girls falling off the map as we go up. Adaora: Why is that?


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ECONOMIC STIMULUS FORUM: Center for American Progress’ Heather Boushey—Let’s Get People Back to Work!

February 27, 2009 posted by admin The best thing we can do for women and their families is to get people back to work. We’ve seen 3.6 million jobs disappear over the past year and millions more have seen their hours cut back. The recession is turning out to be deeper and more protracted than many had predicted even a few months ago. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was a down payment on creating jobs in the months to come and laying the foundation for long-term economic growth. The Council of Economic Advisors estimates that the recovery package will save or create 3.5 million jobs and that about four in ten of these jobs will go to women workers. In particular, the recovery package will help states avoid some cutbacks, which takes some women’s jobs out of jeopardy since women make up the majority of state and local government workers. But, most importantly, the recovery package will get the economy back on track, which benefits all kinds of families. The recession – so far – is leading to higher unemployment among men than women: as of December 2008, the latest data available by gender, men account for four out of every five jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007. This means that in millions of U.S. households, it is a woman who is supporting the family. This means that families will have to rely increasingly on women’s earnings, which are typically lower than men’s and are less likely to come with health insurance. Now is the time to insist that every woman earns a fair day’s pay. 


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ECONOMIC STIMULUS FORUM: The Bitter with the Sweet

February 25, 2009 posted by admin Overall, the economic stimulus plan that Congress passed and President Obama signed is a strong package.  We fervently hope it will provide the help that struggling families urgently need, and begin putting the nation on the road to lasting economy recovery.  We’ve never needed that more. There were victories, large and small, for those of us working for equal opportunity, 21st Century benefits, and quality, affordable health care.  The relief for working families and the expansion of unemployment benefits are significant, as is the lower threshold for the child tax credit and increased funding for child care. Not as well known, but extremely important, is the health information technology (HIT) provisions that we fought to maintain.  They withstood an attack from pharmaceutical manufacturers, health plans and drug store chains intent on putting profits ahead of privacy.  With protections against inappropriate disclosures of health information, electronic medical records can do a tremendous amount to reduce medical errors, coordinate and streamline care, and reduce costs.  This was a real step forward.


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ECONOMIC STIMULUS FORUM: A Great Start-- But Low-Income Women and Families Need Economic Security

February 25, 2009 posted by admin From Legal Momentum’s perspective, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will do a great deal of good for women and families in the crisis. While we applaud a number of provisions in the bill, we are very concerned that yet more must be done to guarantee that women, and low-income women in particular, have access to good jobs on the one hand, and on the other, that our national safety net is strong enough to protect those who find themselves out of work and out of resources. In terms of jobs, women can take some comfort in ARRA’s provisions to shore up jobs in the traditionally women-dominated fields of health care, child care and education. However, many of the women employed in these industries are barely scraping by in low-wage jobs as home health care and child care providers. While these jobs offer a paycheck, they do not translate into economic security. Like the millions of other women who comprise the majority of the nation’s low-wage workforce, these women need access to jobs that will raise them out of poverty and offer a path to stability and prosperity.


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