UNH Speakers Bureau
Welfare Queens or Courageous Survivors? Strengths of Women in Poverty
The number of people living in poverty in the United States is staggering and yet to most of us those people are just statistics. A growing body of social science research clearly documents the negative consequences for the physical and mental health of people struggling to meet their basic needs (e.g. Recker Rayburn, 2007). Absent critical analysis of the historical and social factors that contribute to poverty, negative stereotypes and victim blaming arguments flourish – further perpetuating the problem (e.g. Bullock & Lott, 2001). Banyard confronts and discourages this trend by shedding light on one of the largest categories of those struggling with poverty – women. She draws on social science research which focuses on what these women say about their lives. Their voices are particularly clear about the tremendous strengths many women bring to their struggle to overcome the stress of living in poverty – their attempts to find another route toward opportunity for themselves, and frequently their children as well. Such strengths, all too often hidden behind media stereotypes, offer valuable lessons for all of us and a fundamental base of knowledge for policies and programs that aim to support the movement of these women beyond survival to thriving. This program was developed as a part of the University Dialog Program.