The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty
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The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty

Concepts, Research, Policy

Edited by Sylvia Chant

In the interests of contextualising (and nuancing) the multiple interrelations between gender and poverty, Sylvia Chant has gathered writings on diverse aspects of the subject from a range of disciplinary and professional perspectives, achieving extensive thematic as well as geographical coverage. This benchmark volume presents women’s and men’s experiences of gendered poverty with respect to a vast spectrum of intersecting issues including local to global economic transformations, family, age, ‘race’, migration, assets, paid and unpaid work, health, sexuality, human rights, and conflict and violence.
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Chapter 7: Methodologies for Gender-sensitive and Pro-poor Poverty Measures

Sharon Bessell


Sharon Bessell This chapter seeks to provide a gender-sensitive critique of both income-based and multidimensional definitions and measures of poverty. The first section examines the ways in which income-based measures are insensitive to the gendered dimensions of poverty. The second section examines multidimensional approaches, suggesting that to date the opportunity to capture and deepen understanding of the various ways in which women and men experience poverty has been missed. The third section outlines existing multidimensional measures of poverty, while the final section maps out the ways in which we might conceptualise and operationalise methodologies for gender-sensitive measures of poverty, capable of reflecting the experiences of women and men. Shortcomings of income-based measures of poverty Definitions and measurements of poverty have long been heavily contested. Incomebased measures, particularly using the US$1 per day poverty threshold, have been criticised as failing to reflect adequately the experience and reality of poverty. Nevertheless, income remains a dominant measure of poverty, as evidenced by the first of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As Harriss-White (2005: 882) notes, there is a degree of arbitrariness about all income-based measures but ‘in the absence of consensus, their main value lies in their convenience for statistical analyses of headcounts, of the intensity of the deficit and the shape of distribution, and of the changes in these parameters over time’. As such, they have proven to be remarkably durable. This durability is problematic given the insensitivity of income-based measures to the gendered dimensions of poverty and, in particular, to...

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