Largely overlooked in the debate about poverty in America are the huge numbers of our fellow citizens who sit on the cusp of destitution – just a lost paycheck or unexpected medical bill away from joining the 46 million who struggled to get by beneath the poverty line last year. And despite claims that gender inequality is largely a thing of the past, working women and their children make up a disproportional share of those on the brink.
This week, researchers at the Center for American Progress (CAP) join forces with journalist Maria Shriver and big-name stars to shed light on this sorry reality. The Shriver Report — with chapters by CAP economist Heather Boushey, Barbara Ehrenreich and National Domestic Workers Alliance’s Ai-Jen Poo, along with Beyoncé, LeBron James and Eva Longoria — is titled, “A Woman’s Nation Pulls Back from the Brink,” and is being rolled out with much fanfare.
From the executive summary, written by Shriver:
The most common shared story in our country today is the financial insecurity of American families. Today, more than one in three Americans—more than 100 million people—live in poverty or on the edge of it. Half of all Americans will spend at least a few months churning into and out of poverty during their lifetimes. This economic immobility and inequality is a systemic and pervasive problem that President Barack Obama recently described as “the defining challenge of our time.”
The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink reveals this national crisis through the eyes of women. In an era when women have solidified their position as half of the U.S. workforce and a whopping two-thirds of the primary or co-breadwinners in American families, the reality is that a third of all American women are living at or near a space we call “the brink of poverty.” We define this as less than 200 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $47,000 per year for a family of four…
The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink focuses the conversation on what working women need now to be successful in today’s economy, where women are powerful, but also powerless. Identifying why that is, why it matters, and what we as a nation can do about it is the mission of this report. What women need now is a country that supports the reality of women’s dual roles as by far the majority of the nation’s caregivers and breadwinners. At its heart, The Shriver Report is a call to the nation to modernize its relationship with women in order not only to strengthen our economy, but also to make it work better for everyone.
Or, as Maria Shriver says in her opening chapter, “Leave out the women, and you don’t have a full and robust economy. Lead with the women, and you do.”
The report will be accompanied by an HBO documentary, Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert, premiering in March.
You can download a free electronic copy of the report until January 15.