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 18: Gender, Households and Poverty in the Caribbean: Shadows Over Islands in the Sun

Janet Momsen


Janet Momsen The islands of the Caribbean are the archetype for the ‘original incarnation’ of the feminisation of poverty and its link to female-headed afrodescendent households in the United States (see Chant, Chapter 15, this volume). However, there is an important distinction between the Caribbean situation and those elsewhere where female-headed households are considered to be a relatively recent phenomenon. The Caribbean, on the other hand, has a tradition of female-headed households and women’s involvement in economic activities to support their families and households which pre-dates modernisation by more than a century, stretching back to the days of slavery (Barrow, 1996: 77; see also Safa, Chapter 17, this volume). Female household headship is so well established throughout the region that it has laid the basis for women’s independence and is not necessarily associated with poverty. In this chapter I argue, however, that despite regional similarities of colonial history, economic activity and geographical location, political and environmental differences between countries and aspects of intersectionality such as age, class, ethnicity, religion and education shape current gendered life experiences in distinctive ways. In 1994 at the first United Nations (UN) Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) held in Barbados, Caribbean governments highlighted the problems posed by the region’s insularity, remoteness, and vulnerability to natural disasters such as hurricanes and seismic activity. The region’s leaders pledged to pursue economic, social and environmental development policies that would improve the health, well-being and safety of its citizens, in particular of...

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