· A third of all families headed by single women with children under 18 live in poverty;
· 80% of households on Reach Up are women participants with children;
· 55% of minimum wage workers are women; and 72% of tipped workers are women.
· 3SquaresVT households are twice as likely to be headed by women;
· Vermont women only make 84 cents for every dollar earned by men.
Statistics like those above are what inspired Chris Curtis of Vermont Legal Aid to start telling the story of the real people using state programs in Vermont. He wanted to stop referring to these people as "beneficiaries" or "participants" and instead wanted to illustrate who the human beings are that are utilizing these programs to make ends meet. And the fact of the matter is, when looking at who the real people are that are living in poverty, the majority are women with children.
Last November, we hosted the 3SquaresVT Challenge and Melinda Moulton, Burlington-based business leader, lived on the $36 food budget as part of the Challenge. She shared her experience in the media and when she was on the Mark Johnson Show, Chris Curtis was tuned in. He was struck by her experience and reached out to Melinda to discuss what he had recently been grappling with: how to focus attention on poverty and its disproportionate impacts on women.
From this conversation, the event Women Poverty & Justice was born. On Monday, April 14th, at Main Street Landing in Burlington, leaders working closely on social justice issues in Vermont will discuss topics such as minimum wage, paid sick days, Reach Up, 3SquaresVT, and affordable housing. The event will feature keynote speaker and Vermont Law School Professor, Cheryl Hanna. Following opening remarks, Professor Hanna will moderate a panel of experts including Karen Richards (Executive Director, Vermont Human Rights Commission), Marissa Parisi (that's me!), and Tiffany Bluemle (Executive Director, Vermont Works for Women) who will share insights and poverty solutions. Guests include local community and opinion leaders who will be asked to send a message to lawmakers to support poverty reduction initiatives in Vermont.
To find out how you can add your voice and help influence policy that addresses hunger, housing, and promotes financial security for women, contact us!