I recently got wind of a story of a flight attendant who was fired from her position after publicly declaring that she needed food stamps (SNAPS). Compass flight attendant, Kirsten Arianejad, gave a television interview and revealed that although she was employed full-time, she still needed to rely on food stamps. Subsequently, her employer fired her.
The first issue with this story is that poverty and welfare continue to be heavily stigmatized, especially when it comes to food stamps and the like. Unfortunately, the cold, hard reality is that racial and ethnic minorities, women, children, queer people, and families headed by single mothers are disproportionately at risk of deep poverty. According to the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, children living in single female-headed families were more than four times likely to be poor than those living in families with married couples. In addition, many people living in poverty face disability issues (which is a feminist issue). Now, let me tell you why access to welfare is a reproductive health issue.
Women, men, and children living in poverty often have a difficult time accessing family planning services and excellent reproductive and prenatal care. In addition, those living in poverty often cannot access affordable contraceptives or things like Gardasil, etc etc. Say hypothetically that Kirsten needed prenatal care, or an abortion; her food stamps could be offsetting extra costs she would need to pay otherwise. For single mothers in America is not an easy feat… instead of firing her, Kirsten’s employer should have taken the initiative to raise her wages or see if there was anything they could do to possibly relieve her situation.
What we need in America is affordable access to basic services, such as family planning resources, contraceptives, etc. We need a destigmatization of welfare and poverty. We need employers who, when faced with similar issues, pay their employees more. We need living wages and child care services provided by employers. How to achieve that, I do not know. However, if you would like to get involved, here are some organizations y’all should check out and there are many others, but I cannot list them all: