Global Resources

Gender, Generation and Poverty: Exploring the 'Feminisation of Poverty' in Africa, Asia and Latin America

Author: S. Chant
Publisher: Marston Book Services Limited
Publication Date: May 2007
Although the popular concept of a 'feminisation of poverty' may have raised women's visibility in development discourses and gone some way to 'en-gender' policies for poverty reduction, it is only weakly substantiated. This book draws on recent fieldwork in the Gambia, Philippines and Costa Rica, including interviews with over 220 women and men of different ages at the grassroots, as well as with 40 professionals in international agencies, government departments and NGOs. It highlights the difficulties of establishing any general tendency towards a widening of gender disparities in income poverty, or for female household heads to be the 'poorest of the poor'. The 'feminisation of poverty' concept often over-emphasises income and female household headship and conveys little of the contemporary complexities of gendered disadvantage. While not denying a 'female bias' in material privation, a more important and consistent pattern is that women are bearing an ever-greater burden of responsibility for household survival, and under especially exploitative conditions in male-headed units. What is needed is a more elaborate and nuanced construction of the 'feminisation of poverty' which incorporates inputs as well as incomes and takes greater account of gender relations within the home. This not only stands to enrich gendered poverty analysis, but to provide a more appropriate basis for policy interventions.