Concepts, Research, Policy
Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 71: Informality, Poverty, and Gender: Evidence from the Global South
71 Informality, poverty and gender: evidence from the Global South Marty Chen Persistent poverty and gender inequality are major challenges of the twenty-first century. More than 1 billion people struggle to survive on less than US$1 a day (UN, 2005). Of these, roughly half are working (ILO, 2005). By definition, these working poor cannot work their way out of extreme poverty. They simply do not earn enough to feed themselves and their families, much less to deal with the economic risks and uncertainty they face. Most of the working poor are engaged in the informal economy where, on average, earnings are low and risks are high. Women are more likely than men to be engaged in the informal economy, particularly in the lower echelons. This makes it particularly hard for female-headed households, especially those in which there is no adult male earner, to work their way out of poverty. Yet employment is not high on the international agenda for poverty reduction, and the links between informality, poverty and gender are not well understood. This chapter makes the case for an increased focus on employment, particularly informal employment, in efforts to reduce poverty and gender inequality. The first section of this chapter discusses the definition and concept of informal employment. The second section outlines key links between informality, poverty, and gender. These are then explored in the third section with reference to recent research findings from a cross-section of developing countries. The concluding section calls for a reorientation of economic...
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