Fifty years after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared War on Poverty and amid a nation that counts women as half of the workforce, we are faced with the dim reality that nearly 70 percent of those who live on or over the brink of poverty are women and children. A Women’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink examines the important issues facing American women today.
The statistics are startling:
- Women are nearly two-third of minimum-wage workers in the United States
- More than 70% of low-wage workers do not get paid sick leave
- Forty percent of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income
- American women are approximately half of all workers in this country, but the average women earns only 77 percent of what the average man makes, and women of color earn even less
Maria Shriver explains, “the bright lines separating the middle class from the working poor and the working poor from those in absolute poverty have blurred.” Look around you and you’ll see a woman or child who is living on the brink of poverty.
So what can we do, as the premier leadership organization for girls? Our girls are our greatest hope for change in this country. Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital CEO Lidia Soto-Harmon penned an essay for the Shriver Report, “Teaching Girls How to Succeed,” where she examines how we can help girls build a life of success, one where they are not left on or near the brink of poverty.
According to Ms. Soto-Harmon,“I think of the young girls I serve today through the Girl Scouts in the greater Washington region, I think about what it will take to get them on a path to becoming women who are powerful, not powerless. I’ve learned that there is a proven formula to setting girls up for success: Help them build confidence and self-esteem and encourage a sense of belonging. That might sound simple, but it requires deliberate action.
The Shriver Report shared “10 Things You Can Do to Power a Woman’s Nation.” Number 9:
- Mentor and motivate girls. Be a Life Ed teacher to the girls in your life. Teach them about the importance of making smart decisions—financial, personal, and educational—that enhance their self-esteem and their career prospects. Foster the mindset that girls must invest in themselves and that they have the power to succeed.
We agree. Girls need mentors and committed adult role models to show them they can do anything they dream. Girl Scouts offers girls a safe place to explore their interests among their peers. The Shriver Report is a necessary call-to-action. Please take this opportunity to begin the volunteer process with Girl Scouts because it takes the entire Girl Scout family to help girls succeed.