SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–SaverLife, a national nonprofit fintech company that helps working families achieve prosperity through savings, today unveiled “Hardest Hit: Unheard Voices of the Pandemic.” The new story series chronicles how five low-income women were brought to the brink and are surviving during the pandemic.
No life has been left untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic, but as the weeks unfolded from its earliest beginnings, SaverLife saw firsthand the financial difficulties faced by its members. But even more concerning was how devastating the pandemic has been for women.
The pandemic has driven women out of the workforce at higher rates than men. News reports have found that in September 2020 alone, women dropped out of the workforce at four times the rate of men. A quarter of those women reported that they were forced into unemployment because of the need to take care of their children in the face of school and daycare closures.
This disparity is even worse for women of color. According to September data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Black women had regained 39% of jobs lost since the pandemic began. White men and women had regained 60% of lost jobs. In short, the pandemic sent women living without a safety net into freefall. With limited savings and lost wages, many relied on their own ingenuity and the kindness of strangers to get by and feed their families.
The Hardest Hit project is funded in part by the Irvine Foundation, through the Gates Grand Challenge, an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—a project generating awareness of the structural and historic barriers to economic mobility. Through the publication of the Hardest Hit, SaverLife seeks to showcase the resilience and strength of five women when the pandemic upended their lives, leaving them mostly on their own.
“The SaverLife campaign is a great example of how the Irvine Foundation seeks to learn from grantees’ innovations and the important listening they do with working people struggling to make ends meet,” said Kim Ammann Howard, Director of Impact Assessment and Learning at The James Irvine Foundation. “The act of hearing and sharing the stories of people that nonprofits serve will make our collective work more informed and effective, and successful models can be replicated for even greater impact.”
Read Their Stories
Pandemic related financial statistics are just numbers—the women highlighted in this series of stories are real people, not just data points.
These are women like Tara, a small business owner who lost her husband to COVID-19 and then had to fight to bring her business back from the brink, and Michelle, a caregiver with a chronic illness that leaves her in unimaginable pain. They are women like Shelly, who has changed jobs three times to maintain her hours, and Brittany, whose high-risk pregnancy has prevented her from working, or Rhiannon, the mom of an immunocompromised daughter making difficult decisions to keep her family afloat financially.
More surprising than the difficulties these women face, though, is their resilience and fortitude in the face of seemingly insurmountable difficulties. During impossible circumstances, they gave birth to children, started new careers, turned a profit in their business, and continued to care for those most important to them. These five women reflect the larger themes of economic hardship SaverLife saw in their research.
“These inspirational and ongoing stories of five surviving women standing against tragic circumstances must be heard,” said Shana Beal, Director of Communications at SaverLife. “While many families were able to weather the pandemic unscathed, we want to bring attention to the women who have borne a disproportionate share of the impact of the financial fallout through no fault of their own.”
They are the unheard voices of the pandemic and these are their stories.
“The responses were so overwhelming, and the stories of loss and endurance were so touching, we had to find a way to lift up these voices,” Beal concluded.