Women’s Fund study says more women now in poverty

Women’s Fund study says more women now in poverty
October 08
00:00 2015

By Todd Luck

The Chronicle

Economic insecurity for local women has grown in the last five years, according to a study by the The Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem.

Last week The Women’s Fund announced its study, which examined the lives of women in the area. It’s a follow up to its 2010 study, “Through a Gender Lens: The Economic Security of Women and Girls in Forsyth County,” which was done to let the non-profit know what issues faced local women and girls. The Women’s Fund is a Winston-Salem Foundation initiative that is funded by membership fees and awards grants to groups and projects aimed at improving the lives of women. The fund will give out $110,000 in grants this year during its annual luncheon in November.

The follow-up study did show progress in some areas. The graduation rate for girls increased from 77 percent in 2009 to 88 percent in 2014. The teen pregnancy rate in Forsyth County has dropped by more than half. But poverty showed no signs of improvement.

“Even though we have made some strides in teen pregnancy and high school graduation rates, our poverty rate continues to rise,” said Women’s Fund Director Sabrina Slade.

The study found 21.7 percent of women in Forsyth County living in poverty. It found locally 34.2 percent of black women, 50.6 percent of Hispanic women and 16 percent of Caucasian women living in poverty. All these numbers are increases over the 2010 report, with the number of white women in poverty almost doubling. The updated report went by current federal poverty guidelines that define poverty as making $11,670 or less annually for an individual, or $19,790 or less for a family of three.

The study found numerous possible causes for the increase. It notes that housing and associated costs continue to increase in the absence of livable wages. Women still continue to lag behind men in careers involving STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), which tend to have higher wages. Of the 25 states that enacted the Earned Income Tax Credit, North Carolina became the only one to eliminate it in 2014.

The report had numerous recommendations, including a local ordinance to require businesses that receive subsidies to pay a livable wage. Slade said that local organizations need to come together to tackle the problem and the community needs to devote its time, money and resources in the effort.

“One of the recommendations as a Women’s Fund is that we need to collectively come to the table to look at what we can all do differently now, we’ve been at this for a long time,” she said. “What can we do differently collectively to make an impact because there’s not one agency, one foundation or one group that can tackle poverty in Forsyth County by themselves.”

Sale said the Women’s Fund continue to do research and advocacy on the subject and will continue to give grants to organizations that help women.

“As a fund we’re going to try to continue to chip away at it the best way we know how through the dollars that we give to our organizations in Forsyth County who are working on economic security issues with women and girls,” she said.



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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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