This week kicks off the celebration of Women’s History Month. It is indeed a special time of year dedicated to teaching and celebrating how women have shaped our country.
There are so many fantastic women that can be lifted up to inspire us all, from Abigail Adams (former First Lady and early advocate for women’s rights) to Stacey Cunningham (the first female president of the New York Stock Exchange) and the historic number of women holding office today. For many of us at AARP, it’s a time to reflect on our founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus who dramatically changed the landscape of aging in America.
Most people don’t know this, but back in the 1940s, AARP’s visionary founder Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus set out to improve the lives of older Americans after finding a retired teacher living in an abandoned chicken coop. In that moment, Ethel dedicated herself to standing up for injustice and transforming the marketplace so that more people can choose how they live as they age. And, in 1958, she founded AARP on the belief that in order to live life to its full potential, the rules of aging needed to change. To this day, AARP continues to be a champion for older Americans.
A lot has changed since Dr. Andrus first found that teacher. But you know what hasn’t changed? The fact that women are more likely to face poverty than men during retirement, especially black women and Latinas.
Women face an uphill battle when it comes to their future financial security. On average, women live longer than men, so their retirement savings need to stretch farther into the future. On top of that, their wages tend to be lower, making it more challenging to save and their future Social Security benefits even smaller. What’s more, many take time out of the workforce (or turn to alternative work plans like part-time or contracting) to provide care for children, elderly parents and other loved ones. All of these factors make it even harder for women to grow the savings they need for a secure future.
While Social Security is a critical piece of the puzzle, it is not enough to depend on. Yet, so many women age 65+ rely on Social Security for nearly all of their family income:
- Nearly 1 out of 4 women ages 65+;
- Almost 2 out of 5 older black women; and
- Nearly 1 in 3 older Latinas.
We need to take steps to change this trend now! We can start by removing one of the biggest obstacles that prevent women of all ages from growing the savings they need to take control of their financial future – the lack of access to workplace retirement savings options. Millions of women work all their lives with few or no opportunities to participate in retirement savings plans through their jobs – in fact, nearly half of all female workers have no access to a workplace plan
. Worse yet, more than two-thirds of black women and nearly three-fourths of Latinas do not participate in a savings plan
NC Work and Save, a proposal being weighed in the General Assembly, can help women take control of their future by helping them grow the additional savings they’ll need to deal with the rising costs of retirement.
This proposal provides an easy pathway for women to save for retirement out of their regular paychecks. Employees are in control. They get to decide if they want to participate and how much they want to save. Importantly for women, the savings is their own money that moves with them wherever life may take them – and they can rely on it to take care of themselves in later years.
This type of innovative thinking is just what we need to help women break through to build a more secure future for themselves and their families. And, it is yet another reason all of us here at AARP continues to urge state lawmakers to support NC Work and Save
To learn more about NC Work and Save, please click here
Planning for Retirement? Don’t forget caregiving costs. Click here
for more information.
Rosalie L. Calarco, a 17-year veteran of constituent services and advocacy under two federal officeholders, is the State Director for its Coastal Region, where she will work with AARP members in diverse populations across age, gender, socioeconomic status, culture, and ethnicity. Her service area will include 33 coastal and other counties in northeastern, eastern, and southeastern North Carolina.
Since 2004, Calarco has served in various roles of constituent services for federal elected officials from North Carolina. As Director of Veterans Services for former U.S. Representative Mike McIntyre, she represented veterans and other constituents in interactions with the Veterans Administration, Medicare, and the Social Security Administration, and she developed national and local grant applications to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on behalf of local municipalities in McIntyre’s district. Most recently, as Senior Constituent Advocate and Office Manager for U.S. Senator Richard Burr, Calarco provided similar services to constituents across North Carolina, while also managing casework for Burr’s appointments to Senate committees and subcommittees overseeing Education, Banking and Mortgage, Housing, Medicare, the Military, the U.S. Department of State, Tricare, and Veterans Affairs. Prior to these appointments, Calarco earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNC-W), and the University of Georgia at Athens. She began a career in social work and has maintained professional ties while rising to hold multiple offices in the North Carolina chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Since 2005, she has served intermittently as Field Supervisor for the Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work programs at UNC-W.