A new study shows that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the women of the Gulf Coast the hardest. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), women in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are more likely than men to be impoverished and heading single-parent families. The poverty rate among female-headed families—which comprise 56 percent of all New Orleans families with related children under 18—is disproportionately high.
IWPR recommends that the New Orleans rebuilding effort take women’s needs into account by honoring prevailing wages, providing access to child care and ensuring women’s full participation in the planning process. Says IWPR Study Director Avis Jones-DeWeever, chief author of the new study, “Black women and single mothers in this region need policies that extend emergency assistance for more than a few months, and that provide living wages and job training that will allow them to find economic security both during the rebuilding phase and beyond.”