The Great Womancession

Help me Obi-Wan Konebi , it’s the Great Womancession.

The other day I was talking to a social worker about her clients and workload. What’s she’s seeing is a huge influx of female-headed households having the reach out for help, many for the first time in their lives. Maybe they were renting from a landlord that, oops, forgot to tell them the house was in foreclosure. Maybe they’ve been laid off from their job, unemployment benefits ending, and having to file for cash assistance for the first time.

We hear these stories anecdotally. Of women and children going on welfare for the first time. Applying for food stamps for the first time. Of becoming homeless for the first time. Of being unable to meet the family’s basic needs for the first time.

But what does it mean on the large scale?

The California Budget Project recently came out with a series of white papers detailing the effects of the Great Recession and budget crisis on women and families.These briefings solidify the anecdotes that we’ve been hearing on the ground during this past year.

According to this briefing, in March, 2010, 2.7 million fewer U.S. women held jobs than in December, 2007 (which marks the beginning of the economic downturn). The jobless rate for women has reached a 30 year high. The unemployment rate for California women is the highest in a generation.

For California women, the impact on the Governor’s proposed state budget cuts could likely have adire effect on women and children – not only if CalWORKS is eliminated, but also if cuts to IHSS (in home care assistance program for seniors and disabled) and Medi-Cal go through.

What I think about when I read these briefings are the women and children I’ve heard about from our partner agencies. I think about the single moms who were employed but still scraping by during boom times. Now they are unemployed and seeking assistance for the first time in their lives. I think about the purpose of the safety net, and how it is especially needed in this Great Womancession.

WE CAN take action today with a simple step:

If you are a California resident, contact your state legislator to voice your concern of the state’s most vulnerable – women and children.

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