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Empowering women through education

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 4227 words Published: 18th Apr 2017

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Ghuman (2002) overviewed that women with higher freedom are those who retain their earnings compared to those who are unemployed and have no importance in the contribution to decision-making in households. He also added that working women occupy a better position and have a higher degree of authority as they earn money.

As said by Noeleen Heyzer, executive Director of the United Nations Development fund for Women(UNIFEM) efforts must be put together to empower women and take decision to eliminate gender inequality.

Carmen Moreno,Director of United Nations International Research and Training Institute of Women (INSTRAW) added that women must be encouraged to raise their voices in politics, participate in decision making and have access to education which will contribute positively in their development and for them to make better decisions on the different issues.

2.5 Empowering women through education

As stated in the report of the of the expert group meeting by the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), education smooth the progress of women’s empowerment and for eradicating poverty among women as it enlarges women’s abilities. During the period 1980-1994 the gap between girls’ enrolments and boys’ enrolment at primary level decreased in developing countries. But there are some important differences that stand out. In the case of sub-Saharan Africa the declining of the gender gap in some countries is accredited to a fall in the enrolment of boys and only a minor rise in the participation of girls.

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According to UNESCO data, girls’ net enrolment in secondary school decreased between 1985 and 1997 in 10 out of 33 countries in sub-Saharan Africa; 7 out of 11 countries in Central and Western Asia; 2 out of 21 countries in Asia and the Pacific; 6 out of 26 in Latin America and the Caribbean; 6 out of 9 in Eastern Europe; and 1 out of 23 countries in Western Europe and other developed countries..

According to Goutam Roy (2009), women education contributes in helping to reduce poverty. He added that empowerment and total emancipation are two major aspects that can help to alleviate poverty. Greater emphasis is being put on women education nowadays, as there are wider job opportunities and proper attention to the women in development programmes. He also mentioned that Scholarships are given by government in HSC level, technical of vocational education to motivate women students to become educated. Women teachers are being trained to improve the quality of education given and improved teaching methodology.

Goutam Roy research proved that Empowerment and development are inter- related. The slow speed of women education is boosting women empowerment resulting in women development. According to the last decade, many countries have decided to reach our women, understand their needs and include them in the development process. Survey which was carried out in 2000 shows women literacy is 66% higher than men in developing countries.

He analyses that the empowerment of women has become a social and political phenomenon. The development process is strengthening when both men and women participate and education is deeply related to women empowerment. Investing in education is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty as Investment in girls in secondary education gives positive outcomes.

Stine Ankerbo & Karina Hoyda (2003) outlines that education is vital to women’s empowerment in so far as it enables women to be more productive. According to the World Bank, a mother’s education has beneficial impact on the size of the family, her children well-being and how effective she uses commodity services. Education is a mean to promote development in social, political and economic spheres. Studies and research prove that there exist a high correlation between an increase in women schooling and decline in infant mortality and fertility rates. Before the mid 1970’s little attention were paid to the economic benefit which can be related to women. Educated women contribute to economic development. For example, in Africa 46 percent of the female labour force is in agriculture. If they were given proper education they would have been increase in productivity that will hinder economic growth. With investment in education for girls and women significant progress in social and economic growth can be deduced according to economic analysis. An increase in girl enrolment in primary schools leads to lower fertility rate, higher GDP per capita and life expectancy.

Studies undertaken by a world bank on 20 developing countries find that when devote substantial resources to female primary education which leads to higher economic productivity, improved standard of living and life expectancy, lower infant and maternal mortality compared to countries where women do not benefit from proper education.

According to CSO reports, the earlier a child starts going to school every day, and the less risk of slipping into a spiral of poverty in adulthood. Therefore, the EAP program helps families who, for lack of money, do not send their children to school.

2.6 Feminization of poverty

The term feminization of poverty refers to the fact that women suffer from poverty much more than men. In countries and across the world, women live in poverty excessively in contrast to men. The term “feminization of poverty,” created in the 1970s by Diana Pearce, refers to the focus of poverty among women, mainly female-headed households. However, the feminization of poverty, in reality, refers to something broader than merely lack of income or a state of economic need for women.

She added that poverty is being feminized because of three main reasons, namely:

The growing amount of female-headed households.

Individual and cultural stereotypes about and inequity against women and girls.

Macroeconomic trends such as globalization and trade that fall short to take into consideration women’s position in economy.

While the very definition of poverty mean the lack of ability to meet essential needs such as food, clothing, or shelter, being poor also involve the lack of choice, little opportunity, the incapability to accomplish life goals, and eventually the loss of hope. In addition, the feminization of poverty influence more than just women as it affects children, who disproportionately live in female-headed households.

According to Bianchi, the increase in non marriage among women, especially those who were adolescent, restricted the income prospective of the family, but also make the legal aspects of child support difficult. The increase of divorce rate, and a rise in life expectancy among women further enhance a gendered poverty, while social programs and income transfers planned to remove individuals out of poverty were less successful in reaching this goal for women than for men.

Presently, research persists to prove the existence of a gendered component to poverty, one that has become more obvious and even more prominent with the increase in female-headed households, and perhaps even more noticeable among the young and elderly female population. Female heads of household are not only more likely to be poor, but their poverty is more likely to be elongated.

The majority of studies of the hardship of women point to two primary mechanisms that force women into poverty at higher rates: demographic change and the economy. Since the “discovery” of the feminization of poverty, the nature of social life has changed considerably, as has the structure and nature of the family. Demographic shifts have without doubt rise inequality for women and their children. The amount of children born to unwed mothers has seen a considerable rise since the 1950s.

Childbearing out of wedlock, high divorce rate, explain a drastically higher percentage of households headed by single women who are upbringing their children on their own. Moreover, the average lifespan for both males and females has improved and nowadays women are one step ahead of their male counterparts. With a longer life expectancy, women will require significantly more income to guarantee their survival in their later years.

Changes occurred in the constitution of family and general demographics have led women and mothers at a substantial disadvantage in terms of the monetary funds accessible to cater for themselves and their families.

Apparently the poverty rate among single-male heads of household was around 17.6%, while the rate for single-female heads of household was 36.9% in 2005.undoubtedly, the increase in the divorce rate has somehow affected women, who disproportionately assume the role of primary caregiver when divorce occurs. When coupled with women’s usually inferior incomes and less property rights, divorced women promptly became more vulnerable to poverty than men.

In the United States, most of the children living at or below the poverty line live in single-mother households. Furthermore, women are less likely to remarry after a divorce than men, which left them to single-income households with fewer resources for a long period of time. In 2005, there were 13.5 million divorced women in the United States-3.7 million, or 37.6%, more divorced women than divorced men.

2.7 Measuring the extent of feminization of poverty

Taking into account the extent to which poverty is feminized, one is mostly disturbed with whether or not women disproportionately experience poverty in contrast to men. Conversely, as considered by the Census Bureau and other governmental agencies, both in the United States and around the globe, poverty is a household concept. That is, individuals are classified as poor if they form part of a household in which the household revenue is below the poverty level for the household size. In households headed by married couples, the assumption is that both men and women presumably experience poverty at the same rate-either both members of the couple are in poverty, or neither of them is. According to Christopher et al., “the gender gap in poverty exists because single women are poorer than single men.”

Additionally, in many examples, women living in marriages where their partner is the wage earner are consequently more likely far from poverty.

2.8 Women in politics

During the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women on July 2010, some of the successes noted by Helen Hambling, Group Manager, and head of the Australian delegation stressed on the fact that women now comprises of almost one third of parliamentarians, while seven ministerial positions, including the Prime Minister, and the Governor General – the highest public position – were held by women. Since 1995, women’s position improved by three-fold, and of the seven High Court justices, three were women.

To enhance the participation of indigenous women in political life, the Government had started the indigenous women’s programme. It was a grant programme that supply financial support for actions that would aid lessens those women’s disadvantages and promotes their assumption of legislative and management roles.

Rachel N. Mayanja, special advisor to the secretary- general on gender issues reported that there are only a few women in politics, with women presently filling just 16.8 percent of parliamentary seats, a slight rise of 4 percent since 1999.

LIZ Chadderdon powell highlighted that There are only 19 female CEO’s running Fortune 500 companies. That is only 3.8%. Moreover there are seventy-four women in Congress out of five hundred and thirty five seats in both the House and Senate. That implies that women comprises of only 13.8% of Congress while being 52% of the voting population of America.

Sarah Brewer, Associate Director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University, states her study on female political consultants demonstrate women frequently work longer in the field before setting up their own firms.

three primary reasons for the political consulting industry’s glass ceiling: firstly Women are mothers and need to give time to their children, which make it difficult to serve their clients 24/7/365 and loose that edge to their male competitors, moreover being a committee ED or a partner in a firm one need to be powerful some women are shy and cannot be that aggressive and finally people in dominant positions (usually men) are reluctant to move out and give others a leg up.

2.9 Feminization of the labour force

The effect of neobileral structural adjustment & economic development on woman in the world’s workforces in the global economy is of great interest to policy makers.

Standing (1989, 1999) and Catagay and Ozler (1995) suggest that neoliberal structural adjustment generally leads to greater feminization of the labour force caused by both demand and supply side. supply may increase due to the fact that woman enter the labour force to offset declining household and demand may increase as firms may employ more women due to lower cost of female workers.

Different studies made on feminization of the labour force such as the modernization hypothesis suggest the economic development contribute to an increase in women labour force participation. On the controversy boserup(1970) who first propose the marginalization hypothesis found that economic development , urbanization & relative growth of the manufacturing can lead to a fall in women labour force in the market because their traditional roles in agriculture and home production lose importance.

According to the studies of Cooper & Lewis (1999),Mintzberg(1996) and Rosener (1990) there is the establishment of a more humane style of management with a rise in women occupying higher level jobs as women show much care to their employees and they are more concerned with their well-being.

2.10 Equal opportunity

A recent policy research report by the World Bank (2001) identifies gender equality both as a development objective in itself and as a means to promote growth, reduce poverty and promote better governance.

Research undertaken by the university of stellenbosch business school in south Africa found that top level positions is still uncommon ready to accept woman are professional equals as governments policies & legislation do not works .

In 1996 a Gender Policy Framework (GPF) was set by the African government to authorize the international convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against woman.

The GPF’s main aim was to integrate gender policies by ensuring that;

Women’s rights are perceived as human

They have equality as active citizens

Their economic empowerment is promoted

Their social uplift is given priority

They are included in decision making

They are beneficiaries in political, economic, social and cultural areas.

Turning to the labour market, Helen Hambling, Group Manager, Department of Families Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, and alternative head of the Australian delegation recognized that women in Australia still received 18 per cent less than men and were retiring with half the savings of men. The New Fair Work Act recently operated also intended at pay equity between women and men. In the private sector, however, women held one in eight executive management positions, and the number of companies with no women executive managers had increased between the years 2006 and 2008. To deal with that, the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency had developed a combination of regulatory and educative measures, and held round tables across the country

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2.11 Role of micro finance in empowering women and reducing poverty

Akinyi Janet, Editor of The African Executive magazine reported that Women in Africa are not empowered because of poverty and negative cultural practices. Credit is not very accessible, which is the main restriction on women’s capability to earn income. The Microfinance sector is involving African women in the economy as they were in terrible need of income to enhance their small farms which hardly fed them. Statistics shows that women consist of 74% of the 19.3 million of the world’s poorest people now being helped by microfinance institutions.

She further said that In Africa, MFIs have witnessed remarkable gains. The sector offers financial services to the poor women in possible micro-enterprises make enterprising women more powerful through financial access and expertise and significantly lessen poverty.

Her research shows that more access to savings and credit facilities make women stronger in taking economic decisions. It also develops their skills, knowledge and in addition improves their position in the community. The increase in access to microfinance has made women’s path to social and political empowerment easier.

Moreover Akinyi Janet found that Women have shown that they are reliable clients especially in repaying loans in a specific time .empowering women has been a success as it increases individual family expenditure on health, education, improved nutrition and food security.

The UNDAW report (November 2001) microcredit and microfinance projects have been recognized as key strategies to tackle women’s poverty by offering women with the prospect to have their own businesses, augment their productivity and earnings and, attain greater empowerment.

However, there is increasing concern among women’s organizations, researchers and practitioners concerning the way in which microcredit and microfinance programmes are being encouraged. It is observed that there is limited empirical evidence to maintain a linear relationship between microcredit, poverty alleviation and gender equality and empowerment of women. There are also not many studies that investigate the extent to which microfinance programmes have helped non-economic dimensions of women’s empowerment.

Hulme and Mosley (1996) also reveal the relationship that exists between credit and poverty reduction is from new investments to the pattern of income change to poverty alleviation. A positive link can be generated between the two depending on whether projects yield high returns and if they can create jobs.

World Bank (2001) highlights that the poor can be helped through credit replacing productive assets damaged in a natural disaster. Therefore, microfinance programmes help the poor households to sustain income shocks. Moreover the majority of the micro-credit programmes help mainly women or households headed by women (Otero and Rhyne, 1994; Hulme and Mosley, 1996; Khandker, 1998; Murdoch, 1999b; World Bank, 2001).

Sadegh Bakhtiari, from Isfahan University in Iran stresses on the fact that Microfinance can be a helpful means for poverty reduction. However, it should be used thoughtfully -It has been proven that the link between microfinance and poverty alleviation is not simple, because poverty is not an easy phenomenon as there is many obstacles for the poor to cope with. It is important to know what form microfinance is appropriate for the poorest; the delivery channel, methodology and products offered are all linked together and affect poverty.

2.12 Political and economic constraint in empowering women

It is a fact that male dominates women under certain aspects like political, economic and socio-cultural and they are much well paid for the same work.

Henshall (2004) defines gender equality as the same opportunity given to men and women to be able to lead an enjoyable life. However this may not always be the case as according to Feinstein (1979), there still exists a large gap in female and male wages. For the same job performed women may earn less than men. In Pakistan female job is viewed as inferior and low grade. He also argued that women are obliged to carry out domestic job like household maintenance and child caring. The traditional thinking of people in Pakistan strengthens restriction over empowerment.

Khalid (1991) analyses that women are restricted from the political environment in the country. They are not exposed to social, cultural, political and economic participation in the community activities. Their works are unrecognized and they encounter problem with society’s attitudes which affect their working capabilities adversely.

Henslin (1996) finds that male are commonly paid more for the same work and they usually dominate the socio-cultural, economic and political aspects of the society. In contrast, females are discriminated against economically, politically and socially. Consequently this adversely affects them to emancipate and become independent in life.

According to Dr Naz (2009), in Pakistan male has much more power in controlling economic resources. Consequently women are regarded as inferior as they have no say in economic and political affairs as well as decision making also. Furthermore even if women are equally qualified as men yet their income tend to be lower than that of men. However, this type of inequality exists in other countries as well. Due to the complex structure in Pakistan, women face a lot of difficulties in taking part in the economic and political activities in a democratic way and to even exert their voting right.

Additionally Hafeez (1983) argued that the traditional thinking of husbands that is they are conservative and believe that women should remain at home as housewives prevents the participation of women in political and economic activities. The ego problem of the husband which restrict women employment have negative effects on their children and family life .At times the relatives (in-laws) are against women employment as they fear of losing their self-image as women may become too independent and neglect their traditional roles.

2.13 Barriers of empowering women through educational attainment

According to Amartya Sen (1999) the main focus of women empowerment in the process of development more precisely it includes female education, their employment prospect and the working of the labour market. She also added that difficulty to allow women empowerment through education is due to stereotyping in the formal education system which strengthens the traditional gender characters.

Apart from the every day life experience, women are discriminated in the field of education. Male members are seen as the prime source of earnings and parents usually prefer to educate their sons instead of their daughters. The higher one climbs the educational ladder, the more that learning is a masculine experience (Henslin, 1996).

Muzammil(2010) in his analysis validates the evidence that a barrier to acknowledging the significance of empowering women through schooling relate to stereotyping in the formal education system which further strengthens gender roles. He also found that it is taken for granted that women with lower level of education than men should earn less. In reality, patriarchy is an obstacle to women’s empowerment and it is inter related with the political system to dominate women.

Through the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (UNDAW) meeting in 2001 A.Jacqueline emphasise on the fact that Women’s rights and gender equality is still an issue in African countries. Women are discriminated in different field such as access to social and economic services. Consequently this act as a barrier to women empowerment.

Research conducted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in

July 2009 found that media and other reports disclose that women re not allowed to participate in public life. Many working women are threatened or are intimidated. Women are therefore forced to remain at home. We can conclude that this type of behaviour restrict woman to participate in life and emancipate.

A forum on the role of women in Saudi Arabia suggest that However, women in the audience criticized the ministry for making it difficult for them to manage their own businesses without a male guardian or agent, which often allows men to wrest control of women’s money. Also women are not allowed to drive. Unfortunately, it is such extreme measures have stood in the way of women’s employment and narrow their business opportunities.

2.14 Conclusion

The literature on women in different field and how women empowerment has been a success till now is considerable. As far as possible the key theories have been analysed, supported by the empirical research that has been carried out on the different features. The subject continues to evolve and there is an interest to go further in empowering women to reduce poverty.


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