The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the National Partnership for Women and Families, and the Center for American Progress organized a panel yesterday Capitol Hill on the often-overlooked intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, and poverty in the US. Panel members, including Avis Jones-DeWeever of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Kiran Ahuja of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, and Hilary Shelton, the Director of the NAACP’s Washington Bureau, illustrated how women, minorities, and children suffer disproportionately from poverty and highlighted the ways in which government policy can affect the economic and social opportunities of these marginalized groups.
Using data from the US Census Bureau, the Center for American Progress presented findings that one in eight Americans lives in poverty and that nearly one-fifth of children in the US are poor. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research added a gender component, stating that “while all women are more likely to be poor than their male counterparts, it is women of color who sit squarely at the bottom.”
The Center for American Progress’ Task Force on Poverty has developed 12 recommendations to create a “National Strategy to Cut Poverty in Half (PDF),” including raising the minimum wage, providing health insurance and child care for low-income families, providing opportunities for home ownership, and increasing access to financial tools and resources.
Several of the speakers noted that a discussion of race, ethnicity, gender and poverty was long overdue on Capitol Hill, and they emphasized the absolute necessity of reliable data depicting poverty trends in American society so that researchers and policy-makers have access to accurate information on the condition of those who will be affected by their decisions.