I had the honor of speaking at the United Nations during the Commission for the Status of Women this past March about the Feminization of Poverty and the Impact on Migrant Mothers. Below is the text of my speech delivered. By posting my speech, it is my hope to use social media to help draw attention to this problem and use our resources to find solutions.
Over the last thirty years, rich countries have grown much richer, and poor countries have become, in absolute and relative terms, poorer. Global inequality in wages are striking and poor countries are turning to the IMF or World Bank for loans, which require “so-called” structural adjustments of devaluing currency, cuts in support for “noncompetitive industries,” and the reduction of public services such as healthcare and food subsidies, which has provided disastrous results for the poor, especially women and children.
The feminization of poverty not only means that more of the world’s poverty is born by women, thanks in large part to globalization of the world economy, but includes a denial of access to fundamental human rights, including health, education, nutritious food, property, representation, etc. Feminized poverty encompasses more than matters of individual suffering – it ensnares a vicious cycle of poverty that impacts their entire family.
Feminization of poverty has no singular cause. The United Nations Development Fund for Women identified 4 key dimensions that indicated a heightened rate of poverty for women:
First is called “the temporal dimension,” which means that women are often the primary caretakers of children and household duties. Women who live in developing nations may also have agricultural or physical responsibilities. With these demands, less time is available to devote to paid employment causing them to earn a smaller income even though they effectively do more work than their male counterparts.
Second is “the valuation dimension” which is defined as unpaid labor that women perform to take care of family members and other household chores. Work that is considered “less than” because formal education or training is not required.
Third, is “The employment segmentation dimension.” Women are natural caretakers and thus corralled into “women’s work”, such as teaching, working with textiles, or domestic servitude that includes caring for children or the elderly.
Finally, “the spatial dimension.” When employment is non-existent or difficult to find, women may have to migrate to other areas to find work temporarily. If a woman has children, she may refuse to take the job and stay to care her family. However, Some opt to leave their families behind, to secure what they consider a better life – a means of support – but this choice often comes a great cost. Continue reading “The Feminization of Poverty: The Impact on Migrant Mothers in the U.S. by Michele Stopera Freyhauf”