Women Hold Up Half the Sky

In light of International Women’s Day and the 54th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, on Tuesday, March 9th, the Urban Agenda’s Human Rights Project, The National Council on Research for Women and the Center for Women’s Global Leadership joined together with The Opportunity Agenda to hold a side event at the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Women from around the world coalesced in New York to take the front seat in the social justice debate. Regardless of dialect, religion or ethnic origin, there was one theme uniting them all in the room: women, and more specifically, women of color, are hurting in the shadows of the recession.

Historically, women, people of color and the poor have been faced with disproportionate inequalities in society. The crisis has only exacerbated these existing disparities. In 2008, the percentage of poor women increased to 30% in the United States, and in the subprime crisis, it was women who were the most affected. Moreover the gender income gap is astonishing for the 21st century. At the end of 2000, women were making 77% of what men make, black women were making 67%, Latina women 57%, and Asian women 93%. The inequality is too wide to ignore. What it comes down to is that women and people of color have been in crisis for much longer than just the current crisis.

As we look towards establishing lasting goals and policies, we need to consider a long-term plan that will create a sustainable economy for the future. Asset creation and wealth building generate a solid, enduring economic foundation for individuals. The median wealth (long-term assets) of a non-white, never-married woman is $0. We all deserve a fair chance to achieve our full potential, and that starts with including and considering everyone in policymaking so that a dismal statistic like this is a thing of the past. We need good jobs to spur wealth building so that people have savings and retirements plans. Good jobs mean living wages along with benefits and safety nets in case of emergency. Women in particular are relied on for care giving to both children and the elderly, which directly impacts their time in the workforce and therefore their asset creation. They should not be penalized, nor ignored but supported throughout their lifetime.

Annual events and days of commemoration give us the opportunity to reflect and consider the status quo. As a young, yet powerful country in the world, we must take these reflections and understanding of the situation to constantly strive towards improvement and equality, because we are not even close to there yet. The work is not done until each and every one of us has equal rights and equal opportunity regardless of race, gender, age or class.

Read more at The Opportunity Agenda website.

Tags: Opportunity, Women, United Nations (all tags)

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