Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work New Economic Possibilities for America’s Most Vulnerable Women
Athletes United for Peace Statement for the 2017 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women
Changes in the way we work offer increased economic opportunities for women in America’s poor urban areas. Black women from different economic backgrounds have struggled with unique strains of discrimination dominated by racism and sexism that impedes economic success. According to the Economic Policy Institute, as of 2013 Blacks have the highest rate of poverty. The Department of Labor report, "Black Women in the Labor Force" shows "Black women and men earn well below White non-Hispanics, and Black women earn even less than their male counterparts." All too often these factors in the workforce have negative impacts leading to distrust and withdrawal.
Historically Black women have supported the family with additional income from whatever skills could be mastered. To bring in extra cash pies were baked, fish sandwiches were fried, hair was styled and clothes were mended, for neighbors, family and friends. But now, with the expansion of the sharing and gig economies the way we work has shifted from the traditional course of simply finding a job or having a career to include successfully completing client’s projects and tasks. This presents an opportunity to empower individuals with the skills and knowledge to make money without a formal employer but instead using America’s infrastructure, existing technology to serve global and local market demands. “Contract work”, “Sharing” and “Gigs” offer other options to help solve the problem of poverty.
To fully utilize benefits from these opportunities, it’s essential the United States ensures labor and tax laws serve to protect all workers, including contractors taking part in this new way of working. It’s necessary health insurance, family leave and paid caregiver options be afforded to workers who choose this alternate and sometimes essential option. This must happen at the national, state and local levels.
As mentioned in NPR’s “How Gig Economy Workers Make A Living” it [the Gig economy] helps “smooth… income volatility”.
Fueled by technology, “sharing and “gig” work offers individuals the opportunity to use their skills while taking advantage of cars, apartments and other items at their disposal to generate flexible full - or part- time income. But, in order for workers to succeed, it’s critical that member states foster the development of programs that allows women basic benefits, balance the competing demands of life and be protected from mistreatment and exploitation.
Athletes United for Peace