Global Development Lecture - 11 November 2009
Annual Global Development Lecture, 11 November 2009: The ‘Feminisation of Poverty’: A Global Concept for a Globalising World? Professor Sylvia Chant, London School of Economics and Political Sciences
Wednesday, 11 November 2009, 10.15-12.00, Stort auditorium, Faculty of Social Sciences
Since the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995, the ‘feminisation of poverty’ has become a major concern on the global development agenda. Premised on three major assumptions -- that more women in the world are poor than men, that the incidence of poverty among women is increasing relative to men over time, and that the ‘feminisation of poverty’ is closely linked to the ‘feminisation’ of household headship – ‘feminisation of poverty’ rhetoric has contributed to development interventions which simultaneously aim to reduce poverty and to empower women. But to what extent is a ‘feminisation of poverty’ actually occurring in developing nations? And to what degree is a ‘feminisation’ of anti-poverty programmes the best route towards solving gendered privation? Drawing on comparative field research from The Gambia, the Philippines and Costa Rica, Professor Sylvia Chant questions the validity of a concept with a purportedly global reach, proposes a re-casting of the ‘feminisation of poverty’ thesis, and suggests that a more context-specific and multidimensional view of poverty which, inter alia, takes into account time and labour inputs to household livelihoods, as well as income, and which engages men as much as women, might better inform policy initiatives.
Professor Chant’s lecture draws heavily on her book Gender, Generation and Poverty: Exploring the ‘Feminisation of Poverty’ in Africa, Asia and Latin America, published by Edward Elgar in 2007. Professor of Development Geography and Director of the MSc in Urbanisation and Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science,UK, Sylvia Chant has written a host of publications on themes related to gender and development since the late1980s, and has acted as consultant to a wide variety of development organisations, including the UNDP, World Bank, ILO, UNICEF and the Commonwealth Secretariat. Aside from Gender, Generation and Poverty, her recent and forthcoming books include Gender in Latin America (with Nikki Craske), published in English by the Latin America Bureau (2003), and in Spanish by La Casa Chata, México DF (2007), The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty: Concepts, Research, Policy (Edward Elgar, 2010), and Bringing Youth into Gender and Development (co-authored by Gareth A Jones, Katherine Brickell and Sarah Thomas de Benítez) (Zed, 2010).