Poverty is the lack of ability to meet the basic human needs such as food, shelter and clothing. Even though the percentage of people living in poverty in India is going down, the figure remains quite high due to various reasons like growing population, unemployment, lack of opportunities and other social factors.
Gender bias plays a big role in feminization of poverty, which means that in comparison to men, women experience higher rate of poverty as a result of being women. The constitution prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex but discrimination on the basis of it, among other things, is very prevalent and many times does not allow women to reach their full potential.The United Nations Development Fund for Women(UNIFEM) identifies four key dimensions that indicate a heightened rate of poverty for women:
- The Temporal Dimension- Often, it is women who are the primary caretakers of family and children- without getting paid for it. Most of their times is spent in household work which leaves them with very less time to do something for themselves or devote it to paid employment.
- The Spatial Dimension- A woman living at a place where employment opportunities are limited might have to migrate somewhere else. But, having children and family to take care of does not allow her to leave them behind with nobody to take care of them, as it is a social norm that for a woman, her family should always come first.
- The Employment Segmentation Dimension- As women are classified as natural caretakers, they are often sent into the lines of work that require nursing, or teaching, or domestic service. it limits the opportunity they could have taken had there not been such social construct.
- The Valuation Dimension- The unpaid work of women like taking care of family and children, and other household works is valuedfar less than other paid works. It is assumed that a woman's first and foremost job is that of taking care of her family, and that is is not a 'real' job.
Feminization of poverty has its roots not only in gender-discrimination, but also in lack of proper or higher education due to getting married at an early age, or not being able to go out for work for safety reasons. All of these things are connected to each other and need to be addressed more seriously. Changes in the existing policies, social awareness, better educational opportunities are some ways in which feminization of poverty, and poverty in general, can be reduced.