Women and poverty

Education, civil liberties, and opportunity…Where women stand in America

Education, civil liberties, and opportunity…Where women stand in America

The organization, The Day of the Girl calls the female high school dropout rate a national crisis. National Women’s Law Center Reports one in four American girls do not finish high school in the United States. 30-50% of those who drop out do so because they are pregnant. As a nation we are headed down a destructive path. No wonder labor statistics and census reports show that 12 million Americans have less than a ninth grade education. We now have the highest rates in poverty that the United States has seen in 54 years! The U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops concludes that 22.8% of the children in New York State are living in poverty. Like most areas of the world, poverty too often has a female face. Women are more likely than men to live in poverty. American Men have a poverty rate of 11% while women in the United States have a poverty rate of 15.4%. Why? As the Center for American Progress reports, 25% of the American women living in poverty are single mothers. Sadly, 3 in 10 American young women have given birth before age 20. There are single fathers. Single males as head of households total over 2,600,000 however, the U.S. Census Bureau statistics show single female headed households with children comprise well over 15 million. This leads to depression and anxiety in females who are raising children, especially alone. 12 million American women suffer with depression.

There is an old saying that an ounce of prevention can go a long way. Schools need to implement programs that build confidence in young females and strengthen self- esteem. Educational programs in teen pregnancy prevention have worked. The Guttmacher Institute claims that family planning centers have helped prevent over 112,000 pregnancies a year and prevented over 38,000 annual abortions!

Let me take this a step further. How are young women supposed to know their rights if so many drop out of school and are not getting an American history education? How can you know and understand the American Constitution if so many have not finished ninth grade? We need a strong network to continue to educate these young women when they leave school to have a baby. With a high school diploma they can move on to college, tech school and other programs that will help them build a life of financial security for themselves and their infant. Most of all we need to show them they are worth something before it is too late.

By Joanne Kathleen Farrell

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