Women and Anti-Poverty Efforts in Developing Countries
the wake of collateral damage to women inflicted by SAPs, and as
research mounted on the disproportionate effects of poverty on women in
LDCs, developed countries and international finance institutions moved
to include special gender budgeting in their aid programs.
- More attention and money was directed toward women as part of a Women and Development (WAD) movement in the 1980s.
many women’s advocates and development experts found this approach to
be often patronizing. Instead of directing money at women as victims
of poverty, many felt that women should be empowered as agents of their
own improvement – in their families, communities, and countries.
the 1990s, the prevailing wisdom accepted that women should be given
economic and political opportunities to chart their own course toward
development. This came to be known as the Gender and Development (GAD)
movement, and its strategies and tactics dominate the field of
development assistance and anti-poverty efforts today.
Beyond Gendered Poverty: Helping Women as a Societal Investment
last few decades have seen an explosion of research indicating that
development dollars spent on women yield higher returns than those
spent on men.
- Women are more likely than men to use
development assistance to benefit their children and families,
increasing the intergenerational return on investments. The World Bank
has found that increasing women’s well-being correlates with better
probability that their children will go to school and enjoy good health
than if extra income had been provided to fathers.
are considered more productive than men and better stewards of land in
small scale farming ventures, an important indicator in a world still
wracked by famines. They are thought to make excellent use of
agricultural extension training and loans when they are made available.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has shown that giving women farmers in
Kenya the same level of agricultural assistance as men could increase
yields of farmers by more than 20%.
- Even enhanced
gender equality in decision-making in household consumption and
production dynamics makes a difference. The Food Policy Research
Institute has estimated that if family decision-making was equalized,
nearly two million more children in Sub-Saharan Africa would be
- Money spent on education yields
differential returns as well. Everything else being equal, the WEF has
shown that countries where the rates of enrollment of girls in school
is less than 75% that of enrollment rates of boys can expect to have a
GDP roughly 25% less than that of countries where less gender disparity
exists in education.
- Educated women not only have
enhanced economic opportunities, but educated women also are likely to
have fewer children than non-educated women and to invest better in the
children they do have. This is of immense importance in a world where
high fertility rates correlate dramatically with high poverty rates.
The United Nations Development Program Gender Equality Strategy
short, not only women, but entire communities and countries benefit
from gender equality. Reflecting this reality, a centerpiece of the
United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is its Gender Equality
- The UNDP Gender Equality Strategy is grounded in
the premise that the development objective of equality between men and
women, or gender equality, is absolutely indivisible from the UNDP
human development goal of real improvements in people’s lives and in
the choices and opportunities open to them. By empowering women to
claim their internationally-agreed rights in every development sphere,
and supporting governments to be both pro-active and responsive in
advancing the realization of these rights, UNDP will leverage the
broadest possible expansion of choice and opportunity for all.
Next: Women and Poverty: The Millennium Development Goals