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Unequal Lives: Black Women In the Rural South
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The SRBWI voicing the importance of economic and social justices
Maura Moed

A new report from the Center for Research and Policy in the Public Interest shows black women in the South may be missing out on economic opportunities.

9 rural counties across Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi are the focal point of the study. The Center's Executive Director, C. Nicole Mason, says the report helps to highlight the difficulty black women face in the rural South.

"We looked at unemployment, we looked at income and earnings. We looked at health indicators and what was missing in communities. We just tried to get a sense of how women were doing. So, what we found is disparity  in terms of how black women and families were fairing compared to other kinds of families in the region," says Mason. 

While the overall poverty rate for women in Mississippi is 24 percent, the rate in the rural counties studied in the report is nearly twice that.

 In the 9 counties studied, white women were four times more likely to be employed than black women, and black women who do work, earn nearly one-third less than white women. Even the number of people who rely on food stamps is nearly twice the national levels. 

Oleta Fitzgerald is with the Regional Administrator for the Southern Rural Black Women's Initiative. She says the report dispels some deeply held stereotypes. 

"Welfare participation rates across Mississippi is two to three percent. So, most of these women are not on welfare. If something is going to change in those communities, we're going to have to change it from within," Fitzgerald says.  

Fitzgerald says she hopes this report will help people recognize the barriers that black women have to overcome in today's society.