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Creative Commons License photo credit: Franco Folini

Girls Just Wanna Have Funds is participating in Blog Action Day which is today October 15, 2008.  Our collective topic this year is Poverty.  Being that this site is geared towards women and personal finance, I thought it fitting to discuss women and poverty in 2008.  After all, we still face significant uphill battles in this area given all the challenges we will face in our collective lifetimes.

1. Women battling poverty continues to be a major global issue as it affects women across racial lines and is not only an issue in third world countries, but here in the United States as well.

Chart One

2. Women continue to earn less, live longer and suffer the consequences of raising children on a single income due to divorce or death of a partner.

3. MMND writes: Women comprise 87% of the impoverished elderly. A woman who works full-time for 40 years will earn $523,000 less than her male counterpart. At age 65, that extra half a million dollars could keep her from becoming one of the elderly poor.

4. The Center for Maerican Progress writes: “Women are paid less than men, even when they have the same qualifications and work the same hours. Women who work full time earn only 77 percent of what men make—a 22 percent gap in average annual wages. Discrimination, not lack of training or education, is largely the cause of the wage gap. Even with the same qualifications, women earn less than men. In 2007, full time, year round female workers aged 25 to 32 with a bachelor’s degree were paid 14 percent less than men.”

5. Unplanned and untimely pregnancies are often the driving force behind pushing a woman over poverty’s edge. With pregnancy comes time off from work and the risk of losing one’s job should complications from the pregnancy or childcare become an issue.

What You Can Do To Take Action

1. Teach young girls and women the value of demanding what they are worth at the salary negotiations table.  Women are often overlooked for promotions and/or believe their worth will be apparent and thus are less likely to ask for their truth worth and as a result be paid less than a man with equal or less education and experience.

2. Volunteer with a local nonprofit organization and join them in their crusade against poverty.  Poverty can be eliminated through education, policy and legislation crafted to push more women towards financial independence

3. Join and donate just 20% or today’s blog earnings to Kiva.org.  Kiva makes loans to struggling entrepreneurs in developing nations so that they may start, build or expand a business.

Zubayda Hakimova

Clothing Sales

$1,175

21% raised

Tajikistan

International MicroLoan Fund (IMON), a partner of Mercy Corps

Problems and money shortages never defeated Zubayda, who has always looked for a way to get past obstacles and continue to improve her situation.

4. Promote tolerance and an environment of equality.  Eradicating poverty starts with each and every one of us.  We will all be in a position to “pay it forward” by giving someone a chance to move forward in life.  Do it with grace and the knowledge that you are helping another young women gain parity so that she may be one more step ahead of poverty.

5. Educate young women and girls on the value of making good decisions around their bodies.  As previously mentioned, an untimed pregnancy can be the cause of a woman living below the poverty lines due to increased childcare costs and the time off needed after pregnancy and childbirth, especially if there are complications.

6.  Personal finance education is key to women learning how to manage their finances.  Women are often socialized to use money to create a lifestyle, while men are taught to use money to invest for the long term.  See a difference?  Are these stereotypes alive today?  Instead of buying the young woman in your life a $500 shopping spree to her favorite store, get her a subscription to Barrons instead or introduce her to Sharebuilder.  Buy her a book on saving and investing wisely or engage her around topics related to business and personal finance.  A change in steretypical perspectives is all that’s needed to change a woman’s course in life.

Questions: How will you participate in eradicating poverty? What steps will you take today?

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