Exploring the ‘Feminisation of Poverty’ in Africa, Asia and Latin America
In Gender, Generation and Poverty Sylvia Chant challenges the ‘feminisation of poverty’ on the basis of recent fieldwork in The Gambia, Philippines and Costa Rica. 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, highlight 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’. 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. These findings lead Chant to propose 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.