Gender and Development Essay

The multidimensional features of poverty allow scholars to interpret the segregation from the various angles, and narrow it down into four approaches: economic perspectives, capabilities theory, social exclusion and participative approach (Steward et al 2003). The first approach or income capacity is the most commonly used and easily measured. Having lack of financial resources eliminates people access to the basic needs, such as: food, shelters, clothes and so forth.

However, a capabilities theory pioneer, Amartya Sen (Brighouse et al, 2010, p. ) argues that economic reason cannot be used as the single measurement to justify the cause of poverty. Sen (2010) believes that an individual has to be equipped with sufficient capacity to prepare them to be independent and capable to meet life basic needs, which at the end will serve as the weapon to fight against poverty. The third approach is the social exclusionists who view poverty from the absence of individual participation in the community as the result of social marginalisation.In the participatory approach, Dessarrolo (2004) combined scholar’s perspective over the notion of participation as “the poor define poverty based on their own analysis of their reality, by including aspects they consider to be significant.

(Stewart et al, 2003). There have been increasing numbers of poor women in the world who dominate the total world population, particularly in Asia and Sub-Saharan regions (United Nations, 1996, p. 37). They are often marginalised and discriminated upon; the situation which partially occurred due to the traditional patriarchal system in the developing countries, and also forced by the modernisation.

The combination of both factors has resulted in the women’s discrimination and poverty. However, in recent years in order to support their families with additional income women participate in the labour market. It does not help them to get out of the poverty, yet lead to the feminisation of poverty (Moghadam, 2005, p. 2) On the other hand, by actively participating in the workforce, at the same time, women also contribute significantly to the social and development of the society at macro and micro levels.This essay seeks to investigate relations between poverty and gender inequality in the first part. Furthermore, the second part is to analyse the implications of gender inequalities for the social and economic development.

The linkages between poverty and gender: Resources Allocation and Property Rights; Labour Market Distributions (Industry and Migration) According to the UN report of 1996, there are 565 million of women living in poverty, with the increased number of 50% for the past 20 years.The distribution is that, 374 million of poor women live in Asia and the other 129 million is in Sub-Sahara region of Africa (UN, 1996, p. 37). The poor condition that women are going through was noted in the World Women Conference in Beijing (UN, 1996, p. 37). In this conference (UN, 1996), it was mentioned that in total more than a billion of human population are women, and the majority of them are the ones who live in poverty and deprivation which is an unacceptable situation.

These poor women are mostly inhabited in the developing countries.Thus, the statistical report has shown that there are a great number of women in the world living in poverty. The key factors that prevent them from getting out of their deprivation and living the decent life as their male counterparts need to be understood as Boserup (2007, p. 6) explains: …two successive steps in economic development can be seen; in the first steps, subsistence activities for family use are replaced by commercial production for sale, and small scale market trade and services.In the second step, this type of activity is replaced by employment in modern factories, offices, modern shops and modern service industries.

Thus, in Boserup’s (2007,p. 6) view women are stuck in deprivation because subsistence family activities which they could take part in, are currently replaced by commercial production for sale and this usually leaves them with nothing to fend for themselves. Also these types of activities are replaced by employment in modern factories, offices, modern shops and modern services industries, and these industries are usually male dominated.One key factor that leads to women being the majority of poor people in the developing countries is the system of allocation of resources (Song, 2008) and traditional or cultural beliefs. The inequality between men and women started initially at home. In the most traditional cultures or even today in some developing countries, girls do not get the similar opportunities for accessing education as the boys do.

The background reason is due to the lack of budget to allocate for girls to study.Besides that, traditional and poor people also support the idea to disregard girls in the education, as it will be useless, because as they grow up, they will get married with somebody else. Thus, rural households who mainly live below the normal living standards will prefer to put their sons to school, or if the family lacks money, even their boys will not be able to go to school. Traditional people mostly have practiced the gender inequality initially at home.In the family, women have to accept the fact that they will be placed in the position when of the weaker sex when it comes to providing support to the family members hence; they are always left to depend on the men who are viewed as the stronger sex.

Parents will allocate more resources and attention to the men, as they think men will become the breadwinners of the family and their own family in the future. Being branded as the weaker sex within their own families, women get to accept the fact that they do not have bargaining position to access to education which can facilitate them to improve their living in the future.Therefore, due to the system of allocation of resources and traditional beliefs, girls then grow up to be the vulnerable women who can only have limited access to the labour market with their insufficient capacity which only make them able to work in the blue collar jobs in the lower-paying sectors. Also as a result of this system of allocation of resources many women are left without properties of their own.

A study conducted by UN Habitat (2004) stated that, most women in developing countries still do not have access to land and property.There are large numbers of women in developing countries who do not have access to the land and property, as most of these are mostly secured by their male relatives (UN, 2004). This situation have put women in the difficult situation, these women cannot afford to purchase land or property. Women dependency situation have forced women in to the poorer stage of situation. According to the UN habitat report (2004), there are approximately 40% women in the world who live below the poverty line, and for about one third of women population in the world lives in inadequate housing or being homeless.

Driven by the situation of being poor and not having access to property, women are placed in the vulnerable situation and thus rely upon the security of the male members of their families. However, this fact is forced by the situation that women participate in the lower skills sectors with cheap labours. Labour participation of women expanded due to the globalisation of industries. Nowadays, there have been shifting trends, where developed countries are no more into manufacturing, but rather into services, manufacturing has been moved to the less developed countries.When the export works are transferred to the poor countries, at the same time, they also induce the growth of outsourcing works, sub contracts and create the supply links. By the fact that the factories need labours, women have opportunity to be involved in the labour industries.

As according to Boserup (1999, p. x), the number of female-intensive industries in the developing countries is growing. This export trade sectors have produced various exported products, such as clothing and electronics assembly. The export factories are usually located in the suburban areas, where the concentration of poor women is higher.

As a result of the growing numbers of factories there are large needs of recruiting workers, and this situation allows women to join the labour market. Now, women, that usually stay at home, move into the export-processing zones. Some scholars argue that, according to their observation, due to the nature of the jobs and low wages, the labour force recruited are mainly young women and without children. Thus, the labour creation within this sector although creates opportunities for some women, it is based on cheap labour and older women with children are exempted from working in these industries.On the other hand, in his ethnography study, Kabeer (2000) investigates women labour in garment industries in Bangladesh, and he argues that working in the factories have allowed women to work to the more centralised jobs and better paid in the more visible place in the economic sphere.

Arguably, it is true that modern industries have opened opportunity for women to participate in the labour force. However, at the same time, the labour opportunity do not give fair contribution to these women in terms of wages, working hours and conditions that put the women into disadvantage situations and lead to their being deprived.At the same time, there are some people that would have reaped their handworks. Driven by economic motifs, migration will be one of the best options for poor women to labour themselves. Nowadays, many women decided to move out from their villages either to the city or to other countries. The female migration is usually due to the limited opportunities women have in their hometown and they are motivated by job opportunities offered abroad.

Then, these women migrate to other cities or countries in hope to pursue a better life.In her book, Boserup (2007, p. xiii) mentioned that, in recent days, there have been rapid movements of a large scale of international female migrants. Women from different background, either skilled or unskilled, migrate to achieve a decent life and more opportunities in the workplace. Boserup (2007, xiii) also adds that, domestic work is accounted as the largest sector that is chosen by most international migrant women. It is true that poor women in the developing countries are likely to migrate and work as domestic workers in other countries.

This is the type of work that suits most poor women, considering their lack of education and skills. At the same time, working in the lower-paid sectors abroad as migrant workers also puts them into a vulnerable situation apart from the low wages; they are also subject to the exploitation and violation abroad. Yet, at the same time, they send money home to support life of the people back in their home. Gender inequalities have had a significant impact to the social and economic development.It can be seen from the fact that majority of women are now represented in the labour market.

Consequently, according to the statistics and afore mentioned discussion, it means that there are large numbers of women population are working in the sectors that can benefit economic growth and social development. Therefore, this situation has created vulnerable groups of women without choices than to work in the lower-paying sectors that are suitable and available to their situations. All in all, this essay from the beginning sought to find the linkage between poverty and gender.From the various definitions of poverty by economic perspectives, capabilities theory, social exclusion and participative approach, it can be stated that there is a linkage between gender and poverty as the argument above and statistics given prove that women usually form the majority of the poor population in the world especially in developing countries. The relationship between gender issues and socio-economic development: Participation in Education One of the main aspects of socio-economic development is education, since it plays a significant role in the overall evelopment of a country. As women are also major contributors to the development of educational sphere, lack of education or lower level of education will have a negative impact to the society in a larger scale and to the family in a smaller scale.

As discussed earlier, the traditional believes in certain societies that lead to women being labelled as the weaker sex and as a result leads to less women being educated in effect, does not allow these women to participate in decision making concerning their communities or societies.Certain societies do not see the views of women as relevant when it comes to decision making and thus these women are being relegated to the back when it comes to issues concerning their society. In instances where they have opportunity to take part in what is going on around them, they do not have the required knowledge and educations to enable them participate. According to one research (Jackson, 2009, p. ) that was conducted in the sphere of the role of educated women in the development of a country demonstrates that investment in women’s education contribute to the decrease in the fertility rate, infant, child, and maternal mortality rates.

Besides this effect, the women’s access to education also enlarges their labour market participation and enables them to support their children’s education as well. According to Klasen (1999) if governments in the developing countries had provided equal opportunity for education, from the period of 1960 up to 1992, they would have earned 0. % up to 0. 9% income growth. Even for Africa, the national revenue would increase two times (Klasen, 1999). Another study also conducted by Gati et al (1999), which is a comparative study, describes that “a higher growth rates are existed in the larger female education, while male only accounted for smaller growth rates”. While King et al (1993) argue that, the gender inequality for education affects the level of GNP, as they found out that a lower level of GNP was resulted by the low female-male primary and secondary school enrolment.Labour market participation of women does not only have a positive impact for the social development for the country, but also it contributes to the economic development as well.

The restriction for the women’s access to the labour market can negatively influence the overall GDP of a country. For example, according to the UN Report (Jackson, 2009, p. 2), the cost of preventing women from working in Asia and Pacific countries was between US$ 42 and US$ 46 billion a year. In addition, a research (Jackson, 009, p. 2) by the World Bank also found out that the cost associated with the restriction of women in participating in the labour market in the Middle East is high. Moreover, female teachers play a significant role in the development of education sphere, for example in Sri Lanka, there has been an increasing number from approximately 50% up to 71% of female teachers between 1971 to 2009.

This achievement was due to the access of women to education (UNESCO, 2011, p. 30). According to a report (ILO, 2011, p.

16), “the teaching profession is highly “feminised” in the developing countries”. Furthermore, most of the pre-primary school teachers are women all over the world. For instance, Latin America, and Caribbean regions have the highest number of female teachers. It can be argued that, particularly in the developing countries, that women’s role in advancement of education sector is undisputable. When it comes to the family, educated women will teach their family, and children to prepare for their future. According to the study conducted by World Bank (2004. p. ), educated women tend to improve and support the best quality of education for their children; and on the other hand, women who lack education will cause a negative impact to their access to employment.

There are many advantages of educating women. This is due to the fact that, by their nature, mainly women raise and educate their children rather than men. In various instances, such as health care, educated women are more aware to their children’s needs for immunisation or other related treatment needed for their children. In addition to that, female who are educated most likely pass on their quality of life to their children.Klasen (1999) argue that every child who is brought up in the sphere of education will support each other in the educational activities. Furthermore, educated women, also can help eliminate the fertility rate. It is forced by the fact that educated working women are now getting married later than they were supposed to do in the old days.

Also, educated women now have more control and say in the family fertility decisions. In addition to that, educated women are more mature in their decision to have children, considering their age and the income they earn to support their children’s education.This can be viewed from the perspective that by having good education women will work to prepare themselves financially before getting married.

In the labour market participation, educated women will have a better opportunity in terms of wages and career to be independent and to support their husbands or parents. The more women participate in the labour market, the wider job opportunities they can create. Thus it is evident from the above that gender issues are important for the socio-economic development of a country.This is because for a nation or country to develop in all arrears, every individual has to have equal right to contribute effectively to the development of that nation. Gender issues helps to address gender inequalities which bring to light the issues preventing certain individuals from exhibiting their rights to contribution to the society. So from the above it can be noticed that when women are treated equally and they have equal access and opportunities to all social facilities and education, it leads to a country’s socio-economic development and even affect a country’s GDP growth.

The second part of this essay sought to find the reasons for the importance of gender issues on the socio-economic development. In this section, it can be argued that women are not able to contribute to socio economic development as a result of certain inequalities they face due to traditional beliefs of their society or due to lack of quality education. It is examined from some statistics and reports that prove that educated women and education in general are vital to the development of a nation.From those arguments it can be deduced that gender issues are relevant to the socio-economic development of a nation since equal opportunities for all gender will lead to growth in the development of a nation.

To sum up, gender issues play significant role in the society, that it can create poverty or wealthy of the nation. Gender inequality makes women more vulnerable to the poverty; therefore, gender equality is required to support women participation in the socio-economic development to the wealthy of their nation.


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