Almost 75 percent of poor Americans over the age of 65 are women, according to a Mother's Day report released Wednesday.
"Growing old is an economic nightmare for women," the report said, and almost one in eight midlife and older women fall below the poverty line."The elderly poor consists largely of poor females," the report said. "Nearly three quarters 72 percent of all the poor over age 65 are women."
The report, by the Older Women's League, said: "Poverty in old age is nothing less than the inevitable consequence of women's lifelong economic status."
As part of a lobbying effort, members of the group were asked to send Mother's Day cards to members of Congress bearing the message: "Motherhood is a two-way street. She listened to your problems. Now it's your turn."
The report said women are concentrated in low-paying, dead-end jobs particularly in the service and trade sectors of the U.S. economy.
"Two-thirds of all women workers over the age of 16 are employed in the trade and service sectors as compared to 44 percent of men," said the report.
"Jobs in these sectors are more likely to be low-paid, part-time, or temporary and lack fringe benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans," the report said.
Such jobs include female-dominated occupations as secretary, elementary school teacher, bookkeeper, cashier, office clerk, waitress, sales worker, registered nurse and nursing aide.
"While the wage curve for men is a clear pyramid, reaching a peak toward the end of the career, women's wages are a flat line showing little discernible monetary progression," the report said. "In addition to overt discrimination, society penalizes the wages of women for work interruptions and part-time employment."
The report also said that even in female-dominated, low-wage occupations, women workers earn less than men. In 1986, the report said, female bookkeepers earned 74 percent of the wages paid to male bookkeepers and female nursing aides earned 81 percent of the wages paid to male nursing aides.