“Made Visible”

Poverty in America officially has a new face: women. More than half of the 46.2 million Americans living in poverty are women, and 29% of adult women are more likely to be poor than adult men. From 2009 to 2010, more than 1 million additional children also fell into poverty, and the numbers continue to rise.

In March 2012, Tavis convened a diverse all-woman panel of thought leaders, opinion makers and influencers to examine the growing numbers of women and children falling into poverty.

The nationally televised discussion, “Made Visible: Women, Children & Poverty in America,” aired three nights on PBS, March 28 through March 30.

Panelists discussed the financial, social and economic disparities women face and how solutions to these issues must be a public policy priority during this election season. Additionally, the panelists made recommendations for national action to move women and children out of poverty.

Panelists included:

Nely Galán, Founder, The Adelante Movement
Dubbed the “Tropical Tycoon” by The New York Times Magazine, Galán is a first generation immigrant, a self-made media mogul and the first Latina president of a U.S. television network (Telemundo). She’s an Emmy Award-winning producer of over 600 episodes of television in Spanish and English.


Dr. Julianne Malveaux, economist and Bennett College president
As the 15th President of Bennett College for Women, America’s oldest historically Black college for women, Dr. Malveaux has been the architect of exciting and innovative transformation. She’s a labor economist, noted author and colorful commentator, and her popular writing has appeared in USA Today, Black Issues in Higher Education and Essence magazine.


Suze Orman, America’s leading authority on personal finance
The personal finance expert, motivational speaker and nine-time best-selling author is a contributing editor to Oprah’s O magazine and the host of CNBC’s Suze Orman Show. The two-time Emmy winner, who changed the landscape of money management by drawing a connection between money and emotions, recently launched “The Approved Card by Suze Orman.”


Hilda Solis, 25th U.S. Secretary of Labor
Secretary Solis was confirmed as United States Secretary of Labor on February 24, 2009. Prior to that post, she represented the 32nd Congressional District in California, a position she held from 2001–2009.



Cecilia FireThunder, former president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe
FireThunder is a nurse, tribal community health advocate and former president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe — the first woman elected to the position. She’s a well-known speaker, facilitator and trainer and is recognized internationally for her traditional doll-making.


Faye Wattleton, former national president of Planned Parenthood
Wattleton is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal in New York. Prior to joining A&M, she served as co-founder and president of the Center for the Advancement of Women. From 1978 to 1992, Wattleton was president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA).



Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers
Weingarten is president of the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO, which represents teachers, paraprofessionals, school-related personnel, higher education faculty and staff, nurses, local, state and federal employees and early childhood educators. She was elected in July 2008, following 11 years of service as an AFT vice president.


Sheryl WuDunn, Pulitzer Prize–winning writer
WuDunn, the first Asian American reporter to win a Pulitzer Prize, is a business executive, lecturer, and best-selling author, who co-authored Half the Sky with New York Times columnist Nicolas Kristoff.



“Made Visible” Panel Discussion

Watch Part 1 of the panel discussion as well as Parts 2 and 3 below. Also be sure to check out related content and join the discussion.

Part 2
In the second of a three-part discussion, some of the most prominent females in the U.S. addressed issues around women, children and poverty in America.



Part 3
On the third and final night of a compelling discussion, the panelists’ conversation included recommendations for national action to move women and children out of poverty.

Inside This Feature

  • The panelists discussed the financial, social and economic disparities women face and how solutions to these issues should be public policy during the election season.
    "We're here for a simple reason. Women and children, as you well know...are falling faster into poverty than any group of Americans," said Tavis. "It is also the case that, the younger you are in this country, the more likely you are to be poor."
  • Dennis

    Dear Tavis and Company,
    Why is it not conceivable to think, that families can be considered, “In Poverty!”. I also want women to be out of poverty. My mother worked for a $1.00 an hour, plus tips. Sewed and Iron clothes for a penny a piece. “Tavis, it world “PLEASE” my HEART and I’m very sure, other peoples, if some one would address, “THE WORKING CLASS POOR”. Not excluding, the below, the working class poor. “WAGES WHICH KEEP WORKING PEOPLE”, suppressed and oppressed. When, Tavis, When. You are one, that can bring this to the “LIMELIGHT”.


  • Maureen

    Thank you so much for doing this very important work. Many of us will look at the program and see how we can raise our voices and our actions to make this a national priority. I heard you recently say that “business as usual” is not enough. Thank you so much.

  • E. Brown

    I am a homeless family. Worked as a caseworker/manager yrs ago for Am Red Cross and HRA. It’s a shame that this country is the way it is now. I and other women I know are highly intelligent great parents and no response from employers. This is not the way to live. It is disgusting when you “have” to depend on the system or others.
    I’m a graduate of NYU. I am tired of sending my resume off to organizations that will not respond. I’m only sending it to individuals I meet via networking. I hate it.
    Not even unemployment is helping. They drag you through the mud before you get help. I am sick and tired of it and the killing off of the innocent. This world is coming to a full halt if we don’t stop and do the right thing for all. We need to hear from others such as myself. Help us so we can feed our families and continue the good we do without pay in helping others.

    Thank you,

    E. Brown

  • Antoinette L. Oliveira

    I’m so glad you are doing this special and I will tell all my friends to watch it. I know there is much poverty in the world, but few focus on the poverty in the USA and how it affects mostly women and children. I am in the process of compiling a letter to the editor for our local newspaper calling attention to this very fact–I will mention this broadcast.God bless you and all your do!

  • Stacia

    I watched and listened to the two hour panel discussion, and did not disagree with any speaker. However, I was disappointed that a professional from the mental health field was not present. For over 10+ years funding has been dramatically cut for people receiving mental health treatment leaving thousands of people to sink deeper and deeper into poverty, and despair. Experiencing domestic violence and other trauma often leads to mental health issues. Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, prevent many people, but especially single mothers from functioning at their optimal level, which in turn effects their children.

    To provide therapy, one must be licensed with a Master’s degree, maintain CEU’s, and continue other training related education. Even with such experience and education this profession pays poorly,and is female dominated. I don’t believe the combination of low pay,and female domination in this profession are a coincidence. Mental health professionals provide very important, and stressful services that seem to be “invisible” in many conversations related to women, children, and poverty. Education is vital to helping people rise out of poverty, but without emotional stability, and other supports, a person won’t be able to even do the work and/or sustain employment even if he/she has the potential.

  • withheld

    It’s great to have open discussion about the growing rate of women in poverty. I notice your panel doesn’t include any impoverished women, though. Who better to tell you about it & offer the most helpful suggestions than someone living it? Who do you want to watch? Just a thought.

  • LindaMarie

    I was changing channels last night and stumbled upon the Tavis Smily show, and am very happy that I tuned in. I’m glad that you’re doing this very important work and hosting a forum on women and children in poverty. However, I’d agree with a comment left last night — it would be great to have women on that panel that are actually “going through” the pain and frustration of poverty — whether it be long-term or a kick into a valley season due to the Recession.
    I’ve been layed off since 2009 — three (3) years now. My standard of living has changed, but given my faith and the pure-dee provision of God, it has not completely fallen apart. But for some it has, and I am sensitve to that very real and scary fact!
    So, hopefully there will be real and TANGIBLE resources for people at the end of this fourm. It’s great to discuss things, but people need REAL HELP!

Last modified: October 2, 2013 at 10:48 pm