Feminization of Poverty

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Explain what is meant by the term ‘Feminisation of Poverty thesis’!

Illustrate this by including examples of social policy which have a negative impact on women.


This essay will attempt to establish if politics introduced over the past decade have managed to eradicate the inequalities that women are faced with in a modern society. Due to the word limit of this essay it will only give firstly a brief explanation of the meaning of the term feminine- proceeding to poverty before moving on to vows on primary evidence and the implications it has had on women’s choices when bringing up a family and entering the labour market and the significant impacts it has on their choices. It will then finish with concluding weather or not new labours politics have managed to create a fair and just society in giving women the equal opportunities that feminists have been campaigning for ever since the first women’s movement was established in 1911.

Feminists have evolved over the last century in campaigning and promoting for the same rights, as their male in areas such as benefits, equal pay opportunities. Throughout this era there have been three waves of feminism, however as previously stated limitations can only allow this essay to give a brief overview therefore although feminists can be categorised into socialist feminism, Marxist feminists and racial feminism. They all have a conscious that social politics have been made by a patriarchy society in which the struggle for power relations between male and female is still a significant negative impact on who, how and when politics are made.

However it could go deeper and argue that it is cultural and societal influences that have engineered the way in which men and women are seen differently even though both are citizens and should be given equal status and therefore should result in the outcomes of social policy to be equal and fair. But as history shows us over time women have been the clients and purchasers of the welfare state and the redistribution of welfare has therefore resulted and as we shall see is still resulting in feminists arguing for reform as social politics are often too quick to assume women’s roles in society.


To gain a deeper understanding of the term feminisation of poverty thesis this essay will begin by explaining the term feminism and poverty before concluding with an explanation of the term feminisation of poverty. Feminists have a long tradition for arguing for policy changes to make life better for women. Since the first international women’s day in March 1911 the face of poverty remains distinctly female. (Taylor- New statesman pg 10) Early socialist feminists were concerned with what governments of the day takes in areas of social security taxation, health, education, housing, employment or anything that directly impacts on families and family life. ( Student’s Companion p166) All these areas are very important due to the impact it can have on the quality of life for the children which is therefore why social feminists continue to campaign to enhance the poverty gap felt by women, thus closing the social divisions of welfare distribution. Marxist feminists see women’s roles from a capitalist economic system and that women should change to meet the demands of the economy which in turn saw the state as consolidating unequal relations of power. This is evident as the west state has not equalised opportunities it has instead served to each women into domestic housewife and carer roles and as the socialist feminists argue limits education and career horizons by keeping them out of the labour market. (Ordering Lives p131) Finally looking at the radical feminists who would agree to all of the arguments above but go further by stating hierarchical power relations and structured outcomes and these inequalities faced by women is “power relations embedded in traditional family structures”. (Ordering Lives p64) Foucault’s theory of...
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