Feminization of Poverty Meaning, Examples & Causes

Feminization of Poverty Meaning, Examples & Causes

What is feminization of poverty/ Genderization of poverty?

The term feminization of poverty refers to the fact that women are more likely than men to live in poverty. It is a phrase used to explain the disproportionate number of women in poverty worldwide. In 2018, 12.9 percent of women lived in poverty compared with 10.6 percent of men.

These global phenomena are influenced by a number of social, economic, and cultural variables.

Gender bias and poverty

This trend is a result of both a lack of opportunities and income due to gender bias in some areas and ingrained gender stereotypes. Gender bias usually prevents women from pursuing education or employment on their own since it is believed that women should be in charge of parenting and childrearing. The increase in the percentage of women living in poverty is related to the rise in the number of lone mother households.

Where is gender inequality most common?

Gender inequality is most common in developing countries. However, there is a significant level of gender inequality in developed countries also.

Examples of Feminization of Poverty

1. Global Feminization of Poverty

The global feminization of poverty refers to the phenomenon where women are disproportionately affected by poverty on a global scale. It is a pervasive trend observed in many countries and regions around the world. Here are some key points about the global feminization of poverty:

Feminization of poverty statistics: Women represent a significant majority among the world’s poor. According to the UNDP, nearly 60% of the chronically hungry people worldwide are women. Additionally according to gender inequality statistics worldwide, women make up around 70% of the global population living in extreme poverty (defined as living on less than $1.90 per day).

Gender inequality in education persist in many parts of the world. Girls are more likely to face barriers such as limited access to schooling, early marriage, cultural norms, and gender-based violence, which restrict their educational opportunities. Without adequate education, women face difficulties in securing stable employment and escaping poverty.

Women often encounter barriers to accessing land ownership, credit, financial services, and productive resources. This limits their ability to engage in income-generating activities, start businesses, or invest in their economic well-being.

2. Feminization of Poverty in Core Nations.

The feminization of poverty is not limited to developing or less economically developed nations; it can also be observed in core or developed nations. While the specific dynamics and factors may vary, the core nations also experience the feminization of poverty to some extent.

Gender wage gap in core nations

Core nations often exhibit gender wage gaps, where women tend to earn less than men for comparable work. This disparity affects women’s earning potential, job opportunities, and overall economic stability, contributing to their increased risk of poverty.

Feminization of labour is one of the major reasons for feminization in poverty in core nations. Women in core nations may face occupational segregation, with a higher concentration in low-wage sectors and industries such as retail, hospitality, and caregiving. These occupations often lack job security, benefits, and upward mobility, making it harder for women to escape poverty.

In the UK, the gender pay gap is still a major problem. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that, as of 2021, women earned, on average, 15.5% less than men. Due to this inequality, women have lower lifetime incomes, less financial freedom, and are more likely to experience poverty, particularly as they age.

Unpaid care work in core nations

Women in core nations still bear a disproportionate burden of unpaid care work, including childcare, eldercare, and domestic chores. Balancing these responsibilities with paid employment can limit women’s opportunities for career advancement and higher wages, increasing their vulnerability to poverty.

Single mothers in core nations

Single-parent households, primarily led by women, are prevalent in core nations. These households face economic challenges due to the absence of a second income and the responsibility of sole financial support for the family. Single mothers are at higher risk of poverty and often face difficulties in accessing affordable housing, childcare, and adequate support systems.

Around 90% of single-parent families in the UK are run by women, according to the ONS. Single moms frequently experience higher poverty rates compared to other family types due to reasons like limited access to well-paying employment, a lack of affordable daycare, and other financial pressures.

For the first time, more than 1 million families in Australia are headed by a single parent – and in most cases this parent is female. Of 5.55 million families recorded in 2021 census data to be released on Tuesday, nearly 1.07 million are single-parent families, and in four out of five of those, the parent is the mother.

Despite progress in gender equality, women in core nations continue to face discrimination and harassment in the workplace. These experiences can hinder their career advancement, lead to job insecurity, and impact their overall economic stability.

3. Feminization of Poverty in the US

The feminization of poverty is a significant issue in the United States.

Women in the US experience a gender wage gap, where they earn less than men on average. According to data from the US Census Bureau, women earned approximately 82 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2020. This wage disparity contributes to women’s higher risk of poverty.

Women in the US may encounter occupational segregation, with a higher representation in lower-paying industries and occupations. Jobs in sectors often offer lower wages, limited benefits, and fewer opportunities for advancement, contributing to the feminization of poverty.

While women in the US have made significant gains in educational attainment, they still face challenges related to student debt. Women often carry a larger student loan burden compared to men, which can impede their financial stability and contribute to long-term poverty or financial insecurity.

Causes of Feminization of Poverty

The feminization of poverty is caused by a complex interplay of various social, economic, and systemic factors. While the specific causes may vary across different contexts, here are some common factors contributing to the feminization of poverty:

Gender Inequality:

What is the main reason for the feminization of poverty? The main reason for the feminization of poverty is gender inequality.

Gender discrimination and deep-rooted societal norms and stereotypes play a significant role in perpetuating the feminization of poverty. Women often face limited access to education, employment, and economic resources, leading to unequal opportunities for economic empowerment.

Occupational Segregation:

Women are often concentrated in low-paying and precarious sectors such as caregiving, domestic work, and retail. These sectors tend to offer limited benefits, job security, and opportunities for career advancement, exacerbating the feminization of poverty.

Unpaid Care Work:

Women bear a disproportionate burden of unpaid care work, including childcare, eldercare, and household chores. This unpaid work is undervalued in economic terms, limiting women’s ability to engage in paid employment, pursue education, or access economic opportunities.

Lack of Social Protection:

Inadequate social protection measures such as affordable healthcare, maternity leave, and unemployment benefits disproportionately affect women. The absence of supportive policies exacerbates the feminization of poverty, leaving women more vulnerable to economic shocks and hardships.

Limited Access to Resources and Assets:

Women may face barriers in accessing financial resources, credit, land ownership, and other productive assets. These barriers limit their ability to invest, start businesses, or accumulate wealth, increasing their susceptibility to poverty.

Feminization of poverty solutions: How can we reduce feminization of poverty?

Addressing the feminization of poverty requires comprehensive strategies that focus on promoting gender equality, challenging discriminatory norms and practices, improving access to education and healthcare, ensuring fair employment opportunities, providing social safety nets, and empowering women economically.

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