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Jennibeth D.


Why does Poverty has a Woman’s Face?

Globally, women are over represented amongst the poor. We ignored the feeling of this

but when the time comes that it would almost cover closer to our home, it will be less

comfortable. The government talks about the eradication of the poverty among children but

obviously they have also to consider that children are poor because their mothers are also poor.

Did they ever think about it? It is a sad fact to think that during elections they made a special

treatment to the poor yet after that they could not even touch the hands of those poor ones who

have voted for them. Poverty has a women’s face because of 1.3 billion people living in poverty,

70 percent of it comprises by women. Inspite of efforts carried out in post decades; in general,

women live under conditions of inequality and with fewer opportunities. Worldwide data shows

that people that live in conditions of extreme poverty are the women and that 2/3 of them are

illiterate. The need for women to have an independent income is not just about equality; it is also

about poverty. The society is changing as well as the demographics. The men are no longer the

sole providers.

Gender plays a major role in the poverty profile and women are more likely to be poor

than men. There are factors which is associated with the high rate of women being poor. Mothers

raising children are the hardest hit with poverty which makes family status the main factor.

Those to be considered as young mothers, they emerge as a subgroup with the most critical need.

Another factor is that the single-mother who raised the child alone, this can also be associated to

why women are poor. Race is another significant factor related to women’s poverty. According

to the United States Bureau of Census, The Current Population Survey, there are larger numbers
of White women in poverty but Black and Hispanic women have a higher poverty rate than the

White. The Black females are 31.7 percent poor, the White female populations are only 12.6

percent in poverty and the total Hispanic female populations are mainly 32 percent poor.

One which contributes to women’s poverty is the working status. There are instances that

women are being forced to choose between working and being the full-time homemaker. Getting

into job depends on the level of education. Often, women have low levels of education and they

get low skill level jobs that pay low wages. To worsen the financial stress many jobs pay women

60 percent of the income they pay men doing the same job (Shaw, 1996 and Rapers, 1991).

The World Food Programme has this special commitment in helping women gain equal

access to life’s basic necessity. According to them, in one out of three households around the

world, women are the sole breadwinners. It is said that seven out of ten of the world hungry are

women and girls. It has long believed that women are the first and fastest solution to reducing

hunger and poverty because women not only cook food. They sow, harvest and reap it.

Geethika Jayatilaka points out that there are two groups of women are particularly likely

to be poor; the lone parents and pensioners. This is because both are disadvantaged by a system

which fails to value women who care for others. It is traditionally assumed that women’s income

and work are unimportant because their partners will provide for them. Women past the age of

retirement are particularly likely to be poor especially the single older women. The pension

system is an example of a policy made with the men in mind, assuming that a long unbroken

work history was the norm. Women were screwed on as an after thought. It was taken for

granted that women who did not work or cared for family instead of engaging in paid

employment would themselves be taken care of in their old age by their husbands pension.
However, husband may be gone in a seconds through separation or widowhood and women left

without recompense for the valuable work they undertook.

The feminization of poverty is also occurring that the poverty among women is rising

faster than poverty among men. The suppression between being poor and being female has been

extended to draw a relationship between lack of representation of women in political system and

the disproportionate poverty of women. So are women poorer than men? Feminization of poverty

according to Cagatay, used to mean three distinct things that the women have a higher incidence

of poverty than men, women’s poverty is more severe that than of men and there is a trend to

greater poverty among women particularly associated with rising rates of female headship of


The burden of poverty falls heavily on single women, even though many are working

hard. Putting in another way, a single mother with two children would need to work 80 hours a

week at minimum wage to climb out of poverty. Mothers who are struggling with poverty report

routinely missing meals themselves in order to provide food for their children that is how poor

we are! Although women are not always poorer than men because of the susceptible and, once

poor, may have less option in terms of escape. This suggests the need for policy responses to

poverty to incorporate a gendered understanding of poverty and its causes in order to be effective

in addressing women’s as well as men’s poverty. It also suggests a need for specific measures

which reduce women’s vulnerability to poverty. Jayatilaka said, “Improving maternity leave and

providing good quality, affordable childcare will make it easier for women to spend time at home

with their children without comprising their ability to provide for themselves and their families.”
For the United Nation Population Fund report, “The war on poverty cannot be won unless

greater efforts are made to give women equality.” It meant education to all girls, end violence

against women and granting of full social, economic, cultural and political rights to women. In

World’s rural population, more than 500 million women live in poverty.

What is intriguing with this is why the poverty would relate to a woman’s face. In the

Philippines perspectives, as a citizen of this country I have lived all throughout my life seeing

people, observing them and I have seen that most of the people live a life which is undesirable.

Women will took any steps even if it is hard as an example of the prostitution. Here, I consider

prostitution as part of poverty of women because it does not only degrades the morality of the

women in the Philippines as well as the other women in the world but if one will be on that kind

of action part of her life will be missing and that she could not anymore back the respect on

herself. A life of a dignity is every person’s human life. Women's poverty results in widespread

violations of their human rights. When a woman faces a lack of access to adequate housing,

food, or health care, her human rights are violated. When she lives in an unsafe and unhealthy

environment or lacks access to clean water, she is not enjoying her fundamental human rights to

a life of dignity and to an adequate standard of living. Due to poverty, individuals especially

women do not have anymore a connection to education. I remember before when I was watching

a television it flashed out the children living in poverty and they are mostly of women it showed

there that while the garbage truck is still running to a place where it is supposed to dump all the

trash it carried, young children climb to that huge truck just to get some garbage for them to sell

it. On my part, during that day I feel so down to see that those young people that would

eventually be the “pag-asa ng bayan” as what normally we call to the young generation, now

striving for survival. It made my heart cries to see them like that. What I was thinking during I
saw that documentary is that where is the government that should provide the needs of the poor.

Did they ever know what is happening to their citizens in whom they are supposed to serve? I

mean where is the service that they are talking about before?

There are instances that I could see where it shows the inequality of men to the women. I

have this personal experience that has been shared to me. That they go for a male winner during

oratorical so whenever that person will participate in the upper level, they will not have much

expenses in terms of the hotel or the place where they will be staying especially if the person in

charge is a man because he will prefer to be in the same place thus lessening the expenditure.

In conclusion to this, I will end with a short quote, “If one does not have money, it means

he is nothing.” Everyone must have equal treatment whether one is neither a man nor a woman.

The socio-cultural analysis emphasizes that, currently as a consequence of an economic

model that widens social differences, one can observe what is called the polarization of wealth

that is, few rich and many poor.