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Globalising initiatives for gender equality and poverty reduction: exploring 'failure' with reference to education and work among urban youth in The Gambia and Ghana

Jones, Gareth A. and Chant, Sylvia (2009) Globalising initiatives for gender equality and poverty reduction: exploring 'failure' with reference to education and work among urban youth in The Gambia and Ghana. Geoforum, 40 (2). pp. 184-196. ISSN 0016-7185

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Abstract

This paper focuses on what observers have perceived to be a failure of development leading to a ‘crisis of youth’ as increasing numbers of young people find it more difficult to gain education, access to health, a job and meet standard of living aspirations. For some, a possible escape is offered by migration to Europe, the United States or Australia, often illegally. For those remaining behind, however, international development agencies offer a ‘globalisation of solutions’ to employment, gender inequality and poverty through the millennium development goals and the programmes to attain them. In this paper we do not take the failures of development at face value but look at local contexts to present a more complex picture of the relation between education, work and social life. Based on fieldwork conducted in urban areas of The Gambia and Ghana, we argue that rather than education as a catch-all solution we need to give more attention to the costs incurred by and for young people in pursuing education and training, to the operation of and actual opportunities in labour markets, and to patterns of gender socialisation which give women limited scope to exercise agency. This paper explores key gender dimensions of work and education among low-income urban youth noting that despite on-going efforts to increase young women’s enrolment in schools and access to employment, gender inequalities have been far from eradicated. Our field interviews reveal how social expectations that women should perform the bulk of reproductive labour in their youth as well as in adulthood and constraints placed on young women’s personal freedom in respect of their social relationships reduce time dedicated to education and establish fewer contacts relevant to securing paid employment. The result is for men to end up with more educational qualifications, more skills, and higher-paying jobs, even if unemployment among young people in general remains a major problem.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00167...
Additional Information: © 2009 Elsevier
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Rights: http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/usingTheLibrary/academicSupport/OA/depositYourResearch.aspx
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2009 13:13
URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/22609/

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