Oklahoma Values: What About Our Women and Moms?
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I have two daughters, and I hope that collectively we women can leave a better nation to our daughters. Young women in the United States have almost limitless opportunities – if they are fortunate enough to get a good education; if they have opportunities to work their way up in their jobs; if they avoid getting pregnant before they’re emotionally and financially ready to have children; if, when they have children, they can afford daycare, food and healthcare. If you’re a woman, there are a lot of ifs.
My daughters are lucky. Both received excellent educations through Tulsa Public Schools (although if they were in school these days, I don’t think the experience would have been as good with the high-stakes testing and ridiculous, unfunded, meaningless mandates that Superintendent Barresi, Gov. Fallin and our legislature have placed on Oklahoma schools, but that’s another blog). They both finished college. One works for a non-profit foundation and the other is starting graduate school next month.
Both of my daughters (and my son) have worked in restaurants at different times when they were in high school and college. While they were working for spending money or their share of rent for a college apartment, they worked alongside (mostly) women who were struggling to house and clothe their children or buy gas and groceries with a minimum wage job, including tips. Most were struggling with more than one job.
That prompted some discussion with my kids about the financial insecurity that millions of people live under in the United States. And many of those people are women.
I recently read a couple of reports that gave me pause. In fact, even though I’ve been rolling the information from these reports around in my head for weeks, I haven’t been able to face writing about them. But I can’t be in denial about it. Women, especially mothers, need our support.
THE SHRIVER REPORT
One of the reports, The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink (www.shriverreport.org), states:
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.