Researcher on women and poverty to keynote for Women's History Month

9:25:19 AM CDT - Thursday, March 16, 2006

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

The lead author of a study on how women were affected pre- and post- hurricanes Katrina and Rita will be the keynote speaker for Women's History Month at WSU.

Avis Jones-DeWeever
Avis Jones-DeWeever
Avis Jones-DeWeever, study director for poverty and income security at the Institute for Women's Policy Research in Washington, D.C., will give the talk "Abandoned Before the Storms: Gender, Race and Class Disadvantage Pre- and Post-Katrina" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 1, in 211 Hubbard Hall. Her talk, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the WSU Center for Women's Studies.

Jones-DeWeever is the chief author of a study conducted by the IWPR that found women of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region were especially hard hit by the two hurricanes, as they are more likely than men to be in poverty, and to head single-parent families.

That study caught the eye of Doris Chang, an assistant professor in the WSU Center for Women's Studies, who invited Jones-DeWeever to share her comments.

"It's been a big problem on the national scene," said Chang, about trying to find a researcher who had studied the hurricanes and how women were affected. The fact that DeWeever's study provided policy suggestions "really impressed me," said Chang.

The study found that poverty rates for women in the New Orleans and Gulf Coast region before the hurricanes was higher than the nation as a whole and that the number of female-headed families in New Orleans was 56 percent, compared to 25.2 percent for the nation as a whole, with many of those families living below the poverty line. The cities that absorbed many of the evacuees are now facing similar situations.

"Black women and single mothers in this region need policies that extend emergency assistance for more than a few months, and that provide living wages and job training that will allow them to find economic security both during the rebuilding phase and beyond," Jones-DeWeever said in a release on the study.

The hurricanes made the prevalence of poverty in that region very evident, the study said, and now past policies should be re-evaluated and new strategies should be implemented. Among the recommendations, besides providing job training and employment, are including women in the rebuilding process and providing quality child care.

Jones-DeWeever has authored or co-authored numerous publications including "When the Spirit Blooms: Acquiring Higher Education in the Context of Welfare Reform" and "Saving Ourselves: African American Women and the HIV/AIDS Crisis." A highly sought-after speaker, Jones-DeWeever's policy perspectives have been shared through a variety of media outlets including CNN, ABC News Now, National Public Radio, BBC Radio International and the New York Times. Her areas of expertise include poverty in urban communities, inequality of educational opportunity, and the impact of welfare reform on women and communities of color.

Jones-DeWeever's talk is also co-sponsored by Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, CODEPINK, Peace and Social Justice Center, NOW, and WSU's departments of history and political science.

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