An Agenda For Unmarried Women

Today, the Center for American Progress Action Fund released a report in conjunction with Women’s Voices Women Vote looking at the hard realities currently facing unmarried women. Unmarried women unfortunately make less money, have fewer assets, face decreased job security and have less access to health care than their single male, or married female, counterparts.

This study uncovers some striking data:

Economic Vulnerability: More than 40 percent of unmarried women have household incomes of less than $30,000 a year. That’s much worse than married women and married men, and worse than unmarried men.

Less Pay at Work: Unmarried women make less than others for the same work, and earn only 56 cents to every dollar a married man earns.

Increased Responsibility for Children: The responsibility for taking care of children often falls on unmarried women: There are 12.2 million single-parent families in America, and more than 10 million are headed by single mothers.

Missing Health Care: Unmarried women are more likely than other Americans to have no health insurance. They were twice as likely to be unable to afford medical care in the past year as women who were married.

Reliance on Social Security: More than 25 percent of unmarried women rely on Social Security as their only source of income.

The looming 2008 election provides a unique opportunity to do more than just highlight the troubles confronting unmarried women, but to also suggest a progressive agenda for policy reform. For the past eight years, unmarried woman have felt the pains brought on by the Bush Administration’s snub of the middle class. The CAPAF report suggests that unmarried women’s lives can be improved by:

— Expanding Opportunity by Rewarding Work: equal pay, earned income tax credits, minimum wage increases, college affordability, energy policies, job creation, education promotion.

A New, Stronger Social Contract: child care, renewed FMLA, social security protection, universal 401K accounts, affordable housing.

Resolving the War in Iraq: diplomacy, global responsibility, redeployment.

Improved Health Care for All: Universal coverage, contraception and reproductive health education, the right to choose.

Comprising more than one quarter of those voting in 2008, it is the responsibility of our next president to address the needs of America’s single, divorced and widowed women as we break free from eight years of conservative, regressive policies. American women demand it.