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WOMEN'S WAY Regional Report Uncovers Stagnant Socioeconomic Status & Declining Conditions for Women.

2008 Change of Pace Reveals Continuing Wage Gaps, Worsening Poverty, Rising Female Incarceration

PHILADELPHIA -- From the workplace to the home, from health care to the justice system, a report from WOMEN'S WAY, the nation's oldest and largest women's funding federation, reveals stagnant socioeconomic standing and worsening conditions for women in the greater Philadelphia area.

A tool for improving the status and well-being of women, girls and families in the region, A Change of Pace: Accelerating Women's Progress examines the continuing gender wage gap; the impact of scarce affordable housing, health care and child care on women's socioeconomic security; continuing threats of violence; reproductive freedom limitations; and the gross under representation of women in area leadership/government positions.

The 30-page report, first released in 2003 and last updated in 2004, features data collected and analyzed from federal agencies and published reports, and offers policy recommendations shaped by a community advisory board made up of many WOMEN'S WAY funded agencies.

A Change of Pace illuminates key challenges, even greater for vulnerable women - from those of color, to low-wage workers, to the LGBTQ community, to the elderly - including:

* WORK - Women working full-time in the Philadelphia region are worth just three-fourths of men, receiving 76 cents on the dollar compared to men, slightly worse than the national 78-cent average.

* ECONOMIC SECURITY - Over one-third of Philadelphia single-mother families live in poverty, while more than one-in-three of the region's households spend in excess of 30% of income on housing costs. Two-thirds of the Philadelphia area elderly population living below the official poverty line are women.

* HEALTH - Women's health continues to be threatened. One-in-nine Pennsylvania women lacks health insurance. Black women are disproportionately affected by AIDS, accounting for an estimated 72% of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses among Philadelphia women compared with 61% of all cases nationwide. The 96 family planning clinics in the Philadelphia region meet just half the need for health services among women.

* CRIME - While Philadelphia incarcerates more women than surrounding counties, suburban rates are growing fast. More than three-in-five female prisoners are mothers with children under the age of 18. Note: Due to increases in female imprisonment, this is the first time incarceration has been included in this report.

* VIOLENCE - In Pennsylvania, nearly one-half of female homicide victims in 2006 were killed by their husband or boyfriend, compared to 30% nationwide. However, state and federal funding for domestic violence services has not kept pace.

* INFLUENCE - More than 60 of the largest 100 Philadelphia area companies have no women in top executive positions. And, Pennsylvania has one of the worst records in the nation for electing women to office.

"As we enter into one of our toughest economic times, the data in A Change of Pace is too compelling to ignore. Most women have yet to achieve true economic equality. And, they continue to see their health and safety threatened by a lack of political will," says WOMEN'S WAY Executive Director Melissa Weiler Gerber. "The report urges each of us - whether an employer or an employee, a voter, an elected official, a teacher, or a concerned family member - to play a role in stepping up the pace of progress for the women and girls in our lives."

WOMEN'S WAY will hold several community forums throughout Philadelphia in the coming months to present report findings and seek input from community members on critical issues. WOMEN'S WAY's new Director of Education and Advocacy Initiatives, along with a community-based advisory council, will use this information to support advocacy efforts to influence vital policy changes.

A Change of Pace was funded in part by Lisa D. Kabnick and John H. McFadden and The Honickman Foundation. To access the full report, visit http://www.womensway.org/media-change-of-pace.asp.

For more information, please contact Rebecca Foley, WOMEN'S WAY's director of education and advocacy initiatives, at 215-985-3322 or rfoley@womensway.org.

Founded in 1977, WOMEN'S WAY's mission is to fight for and achieve women's equality, safety, self-sufficiency and reproductive freedom through women-centered funding, advocacy and education.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Dec 12, 2008
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