International Women’s Day (IWD) is a big deal. The day marks a global celebration of women every March 8th, and sparks events that run the gamut from walks in support of local women’s clinics to erudite discussion sessions focusing on enhancing women’s role in society. So, in these times of forced austerity and economic recession it is indeed pertinent to note that it is women – particularly single women – that are bearing the brunt of the downturn. In a truly shocking recent study in the US, it was revealed that while on average women of all races bring home less money and own fewer assets than men of the same race, single black women — even in their prime working years – have a median wealth that only amounts to US$5. Yes, that’s correct – a measly $5. The study was generated By researchers at the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, based in Oakland, California, who analyzed data from the 2007 Survey of Consumer Finances — a detailed report issued By the Federal Reserve Board every three years on US household finances. Of course, this information needs to be taken in context. Many poor women around the world have an even lower net worth. However, in the richest nation in the world, such a stark disparity raises all sorts of unpleasant questions. The same study found that single white women in the prime of their working years (ages 36 to 49) have a median wealth of $42,600, which is 61 percent of their single white male counterparts, Hispanic women didn’t fare much better than their black counterparts, with those of working-ages (18 – 64) having an overall median wealth of US$120. This group included both single and married women. In the Caribbean, poverty and its negative impact on women has been the subject of numerous studies. One, formulated before the disastrous earthquake in Port-au-Prince, reported that island-nations Haiti and Guyana suffer through poverty rates of 75 percent and 43.2 percent, respectively. According to the Global Policy Forum, 70 percent of persons living on less than $1 per day are women. So, not to be a downer, but while it is certainly appropriate to celebrate women’s economic, political and social achievements on IWD, lots of work clearly needs to be done to uplift the lives of women worldwide – from those living in poverty-stricken villages beset By natural disasters, to those residing in advanced Western countries.
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