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Feminization and Poverty by Prof. Vibhuti Patel

Subject:Women Studies/Gender Studies Paper: Women and economics
“Women do two-thirds of the worlds’ work... Yet they earn only one-tenth of the worlds’ income and own less than one percent of the world’s property. They are among the poorest of the world’s poor.” – Barber B. Conable Jr., President of the World Bank (1986)
“The feminization of poverty is the term given to the phenomenon in which women experience poverty at far higher rates than men.” – (Thibos, Lavin-Loucks and Martin 2007), The J. McDonalds William Institute

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Comment by Prof. Dr. Vibhuti Patel on May 21, 2018 at 11:10am

The phrase “feminization of poverty" is contested and open to a variety of interpretation. However, it was actually coined by an American researcher , Diana Pearce in 1978 when through her research she discovered the large number of women who were impacted by poverty, not only in her country but in fact all over the world. Thus the idea has its genesis in the 1970s. It was popularized at the start of the 1990s, not least in research by United Nation agencies. A 1992 UN report found that “the number of rural women living in poverty in the developing countries has increased by almost 50% over the past 20 years to an awesome 565 million -- 374 million of them in Asia, and 129 million in Sub-Saharan Africa. The concept has various meanings, some of which are not entirely consistent with its implicit notion of change. UNIFEM describes it as "the burden of poverty borne by women, especially in developing countries".[2] ascribing the cause to the lack of capacity building of women internationally. The United Nations Development Programme, as does much of literature on the subject, defines ‘feminization of poverty’ as a condition wherein the change in poverty levels is biased against women or female-headed households. In other words, it is the rise in difference in poverty levels between female and male poverty, or between female-headed and male-headed households. Since feminization implies change, feminization of poverty does not simply mean higher poverty among women or female-headed households. To be clear, it is important to note that feminization is a process, whereas ‘higher poverty level’ is a state; and that feminization of poverty is a relative concept based on a comparison between poverty among men and women.


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