The Feminization of Poverty

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"Poverty is the worst form of violence." –Mahatma Gandhi

What is the "feminization" of poverty?

The feminization of poverty is the phenomenon in which women experience poverty at rates that are disproportionately high in comparison to men. Though in industrialized nations a great emphasis is placed on women shattering the glass ceiling and climbing the corporate ladder (and rightly so), the most unquestionably pressing and widespread socioeconomic issue faced by women around the world is poverty--and often extreme poverty at that.

Of all the people in the world living in poverty, 70% are women. Women also constitute the majority of the 1.5
billion people
living on $1 a day or less. 1

The actual term “feminization of poverty” was conceived in the 1970s, yet has only truly gained recognition among scholars and activists in the past two decades. The highly gendered nature of economic disparity, however, remains largely unrecognized on a global stage.

In this context, poverty is not defined as simply a lack of money, but rather also the denial of access to fundamental human rights, including health, education, nutritious food, property, representation, etc. All factors considered, the World Health Organization considers extreme poverty to be the world's most ruthless killer.

 

Why is it important?

The prevalence of women living below the poverty level is not mere circumstance or conincidence, nor is it just a women's issue. It's a matter of human concern. Feminized poverty encompasses far more than just matters of income or indiviudal suffering; when allowed to perpetuate, it ensnares generation after generation in a vicious cycle of poverty and hopelessness, threatening the health and well-being of women and their families all over the world.

 

 

This site explores some key explanations and implications of the feminiz ation of poverty, both in the United States and throughout the world.


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