A new study from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research ranks Alabama as the worst state in the South for women.
The study, “Status of Women in the South,” explores a variety of topics relative to women’s lives, including political participation, employment and earnings, work and family, poverty and opportunity, reproductive rights and health and well-being. In all seven categories, Alabama received a D or F grade.
The study examined 14 states deemed “Southern” states — Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, North and South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, and the District of Columbia — and, of those, Alabama ranked dead last overall.
The breakdown of grading for the state was as follows:
- Political Participation: D-
- Employment and Earnings: F
- Work and Family: D-
- Poverty and Opportunity: D-
- Reproductive Rights: D
- Health and Well-Being: F
Along with rating each state individually, the study notes that poverty rates among women in the South are some of the highest in the country and closing the gender wage, estimated to cost Southern women $155.4 billion annually, would reduce women’s poverty rate by more than half.
But not all of the findings were negative: Women in the South generally have better access to affordable and quality childcare and Southern women are more likely to be business owners than women in other parts of the country.
However, the poverty rate for Southern women, now at 16.4 percent, is higher than non-Southern states, which currently rests just over 13 percent, and women in the South are more likely to die from heart disease and breast cancer, and more likely to suffer from diabetes or AIDS. Further, maternal and infant mortality are startlingly high in the South and 11 Southern states accounted for more than one-third of all female homicides by males.