Tavis Smiley Aims To Put Poverty On 2012 Election Agenda

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“Two decades ago we were celebrating what was the Year Of The Woman in ’92, and now we’re dealing with a war on women in 2012,” Tavis Smiley said on a recent afternoon.

Smiley rattles off some numbers.

“Women are much more likely to be poor than men, and more than a million children have fallen into poverty, and more than 500,000 have fallen into extreme poverty” — that is, living on less than $2 a day — “since 2010.”

Recent census data shows that the number of children who live in extreme poverty has doubled from 1996 to 2011, from 1.4 million to 2.8 million.

To draw attention to this problem, Smiley is moderating a televised symposium Sunday called “Made Visible: Women, Children and Poverty In America” at New York University. Smiley said that he consciously assembled a panel that would feature women from diverse backgrounds since he felt that so much of the recent conversation around women’s issues in America — he specifically referred to the recent fight in Congress over insuring female contraception — included few women’s voices.

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