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Pay Gap, Housing Costs, Aging All Increase Challenges For Westchester Women

A Westchester Women's Agenda study has generated lively discussion about increasing pressures, disparities and new demands on women and families.
A Westchester Women's Agenda study has generated lively discussion about increasing pressures, disparities and new demands on women and families. Photo Credit: Provided

A recent report that looked at the status of women in Westchester County offers a bleak outlook for many who are all facing increasing challenges from financial, to social and educational issues in addition to others.

The recently published “2016 Report on the Status of Women in Westchester” paints a portrait of women squeezed by the high cost of child care, a growing elderly population which strains their resources, and wage disparities which– despite the higher educational levels of women– continue to favor men.

“The goal of the report is to create a baseline on issues of concern to women,” says Antoinette Klatzky, co-chair of the Westchester Women’s Agenda, “And to lay the foundation for data-based and research-informed efforts to pursue progress and improve the quality of life for women and for everyone in Westchester County. The report also seeks to inspire the public to join in these efforts.”

Among the key findings in the Report, which was produced with co-sponsorship support from Eileen Fisher, include:

  • The high cost of child care. Nearly half of the respondents in a survey by the Child Care Council indicated that they had trouble paying for child care in the last six months. To deal with these high child care costs, nearly half of the parents borrowed money from their families, a third moved their children from regulated to informal child care and over a quarter reduced their working hours.
  • The lack of affordable housing. The U.S. Department of Housing (HUD) defines affordable housing as that which costs less than 30 percent of household income. By that standard, half or more of Westchester County’s renters live in housing they cannot afford. Women in domestic violence situations are particularly impacted by the lack of access to decent and affordable housing, as are older women.
  • The rise in poverty. More than 10% of Westchester families live in poverty, and that percentage has increased over the last five years. Blacks and Hispanics are far more likely to live in poverty. Women ages 45-54 represent the highest demographic living in poverty.
  • Pay disparities between women and men. While the educational levels of women now exceed those of men, at all levels of education, women in Westchester still make less money than men. Even in comparable full- time jobs with full-time hours, women make less money than men. Given current trends, women in New York will not achieve equal pay until 2049.
  • The growing demand for elder care. In Westchester, residents over 60 years old represent 20 percent of the population or one in five people. They will represent 25 percent -- or one in four people — by 2030. And in the entire Hudson Valley Region, the number of people over 60 is already twice as large as the national average.

The WWA is a feminist organization that serves as a strong voice for women in Westchester on legislative policy and program issues affecting women in Westchester County.

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