Maria Shriver targets poverty, gender inequity

As California first lady, Maria Shriver spent years dealing with the issues of California. Now she has a new role: improving the struggling status of  American women.

She returned to Sacramento for her first public event in more than three years last week to promote efforts in The Shriver Report — a multimedia project — into the studies of gender inequality, poverty and an array of social issues

The report, Shriver said during a She Shares presented by Dewey Square Group at the California Museum, was born out of her work at the California Women’s Conference, in which she said she found a need to understand poverty in America and whom it’s affecting.

Shriver co-authored the report along with the nonprofit  Center for American Progress. It’s her third analysis of women in America, her previous reports found women comprise half of the nation’s workforce and two-thirds are using those wages to raise a family.

“It’s smart policy to invest in women—it’s smart economic policy,” Shriver said.

But women still earn just 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn, and a third of all American women are either at the brink or are living in poverty, she said.

The stereotypical family of a male breadwinner and his housewife only applies to one fifth of American families. Single moms are having more than half of the babies being born to women under age 30, and those women are primarily white. Shriver is calling for an institutional change to catch up with the realities that women are dealt.

The Shriver Report contends the nation can push women from the brink of poverty by providing living wages and offering more sick leave. The report also puts the onus on women to invest into themselves by becoming educated and using their economic power.

Women make up 54 percent of the electorate, Shriver said, and there is power in their voice at the ballot box if women “pull it together.”

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