Poverty argumentative essay

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Study Approach

The United Nations (UN) has adopted two definitions of poverty – absolute and overall poverty. Absolute poverty is severe depravation of basic needs such as food, health, safe drinking water, etc. while overall poverty is lack of income and productive resources for sustainable livelihood. The study approach for the current essay is women and poverty. This is because women and girls are vulnerable to extreme poverty compared to men in the society. This can be partially attributed to women spending much of their income and resources to improve nutrition, education and health of their families compared to men in the society. Similarly, vulnerability of women to poverty can be linked to numerous challenges women face in their workplaces. For instance, women face higher burdens of unpaid work, subjected to gender-based violence (GBV) which reduces their productivity, women possess less productive resources for sustainable livelihood and forced early marriages (Deere & Doss, 2013). The cumulative impact of these factors is reduced women’s ability to fully participate in economic development.

Information Discussion

Annamaria & Dominique van de Walle (2015) conducted a research study entitled “women left behind? Poverty and hardship in Africa.” The study was triggered by poverty prevalence being higher for female-headed households. Prevalence and characteristics of female headed households were examined using data from two sources: household surveys from 100 existing Demographic and Health Surveys for Africa for over the last 25 years representing 89% of Africa’s population; and World Bank’s Povcalnet Database. The study concluded that there were higher poverty prevalence rates for female headed households although poverty levels were reducing across the continent as a result of increased share of female headed households in productive economy.

A study on poverty, gender and ethnicity in key sectors of the Fijian economy by Market Development Facility (2013) analyzed the role of gender and ethnicity on poverty levels by establishing who is poor and why within selected sectors of economy. The study further provided mechanisms and strategies that can be used to improve people’s living standards. The primary research data was obtained from workers in tourism and horticulture sectors using semi-structured tools such as household surveys, worker interviews and observation between March and May 2013. Primary data was supplemented by secondary source research from previous reports on other sectors of economy. The study established that tourism and horticulture offer increased opportunities for women poverty reductions through increased and improved production, higher prices for produced goods and improved access to the market.

Klasen, Lechtenfeld and Povel (2012) conducted a study to establish whether female headed households were worse compared to male headed households with regard to vulnerability to poverty, perceived vulnerability to downside risk etc. The research data comprised of unique panel dataset of over 4,000 rural households in Thailand and Vietnam. The study established that female headed households from Thailand had larger uninsured risks due to worse consumption smoothing while for Vietnam the study showed that female headed households were susceptible to poverty than male headed households. However, the study failed to establish significant dissimilarities between women- and men headed households.

Wim Van Lancker (2015) analyzed the effects of poverty on the living and working conditions of women and their children in European Union (EU). The existing statistics indicates that poverty risk is higher for active age women with dependent children (19%) than active age men with dependent children (17%). The analysis focused on active age women (20 – 59 years) with children with emphasis on single mother and those with migrant backgrounds in EU. The analysis established that poverty results to social exclusion to basic human needs such as primary healthcare and housing. The analysis further established that because of social exclusion, women are more likely to work in non-standard working environments than men. Although men may work in these non-standard environments, they are less likely to be at risk to poverty compared to women. The study associated these findings to the fact that women in these settings are secondary earners working as part-time thus limiting women’s ability to stay out of poverty.

Diane Perrons, (2015) analysed the effects of the crisis on female poverty. The aim of the study was to investigate the effects of the financial crisis experienced in European countries on female poverty. The study established that the average number and percentage of men and women vulnerable to poverty and social inclusion increased as a result of financial crisis that hit the region with the number of women living in poverty being higher than men. For instance, of the total 123 million people vulnerable to poverty risk and social exclusion in EU28, 58.8 million were men and 65.1 million were women.

The main reasons for women poverty include higher unpaid work, limited productive resources, and exposure to gender-based violence, social exclusion and forced early marriages. The solution to this problems lies with policy decision making and implementation aimed at increasing women productivity in various sectors of the economy such as agriculture, and tourism. This can be realized by increasing the proportion of female workforce in these sectors thus faster economic growth to facilitate moving out of extreme poverty more particularly female poverty. Women poverty is a micro concept as most of the analyses and studies were based micro data obtained from varied sources.

Lastly, my paper topic is highly applicable to Florida since there are a number of immigrant women living in the State. Discussion in this essay has established that women of immigrant origin are highly susceptible to poverty than their male counterparts as well as native women.

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  1. Annamaria Milazzo and Dominique van de Walle (2015) Women Left Behind? Poverty and Headship in Africa, Word Bank Development Research Group, Policy Research Working Paper 7331.
  2. Deere, C.D.D. & Doss, C.R. (2013) The Gender Asset Gap: What do we know and why does it matter? Feminist Economics, 12, No. 1-2.
  3. Diane Perrons, (2015). The Effects of the Crisis on Female Poverty, Gender Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science, Workshop for the FEMM Committee.
  4.  Market Development Facility (2013). Study on Poverty, Gender and Ethnicity in Key Sectors of the Fijian Economy, Australian Aid
  5. Stephan Klasen, Tobias Lechtenfeld and Felix Povel, (2012) What about the Women? Female Headship, Poverty and Vulnerability in Thailand and Vietnam, German Research Foundation (DFG).
  6. Wim Van Lancker (2015). Effects of Poverty on the Living and Working Conditions of Women and their Children, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp, Belgium.
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