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New Women’s Retirement Education Program

Program on Women’s Education for Retirement (POWER) is an educational program that was created to teach low and middle-income women how to better plan for retirement.

Since women live longer than men, earn less than men, are more likely to marry spouses older than themselves, and are more likely to quit working or work fewer hours to care for children, they are greatly disadvantaged under the currently Social Security system. Arnaa Alcon, research coordinator for the National Center on Women and Aging, noted that elderly women, many of whom are widows, are fifty percent more likely to live in poverty than are their male peers.

In addition to inequities in the Social Security system, women are also disadvantaged by a lack of knowledge about personal finance. POWER’s Executive Director Cindy Hounsell said, “There is a lack of core educational materials and programs focused on the needs of the millions of women who are living from paycheck to paycheck and struggling to keep their families afloat.”

In response to this problem, the Women’s Aging Center at Brandeis University and the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement created the POWER program. Workshops have already been led in Atlanta and more are planned in California.

POWER organizers list the following statistics as evidence for the need for their program. Go to http://www.wiser.heinz.org/powercenter.html for more information.

Three out of four working women earn less than $25,000 per year. Nine out of 10 working women earn less than $40,000 annually. Half of all women work in traditionally female, relatively low-paying jobs without pensions. Women retirees receive only half the average pension benefits that men receive. Women’s earnings average 74 cents for every $1 earned by men – a lifetime low of more than $250,000.

Sources:

Nando Times - January 28, 1999