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Female household headship and the feminisation of poverty : facts, fictions and forward strategies

Chant, Sylvia ORCID: 0000-0002-0020-3751 (2003) Female household headship and the feminisation of poverty : facts, fictions and forward strategies. New Working Paper Series (9). Gender Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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This paper interrogates the common assumption that a large part of the so-called ‘feminisation of poverty’ in recent decades is due to the progressive ‘feminisation of household headship’. Its specific aims are three-fold. The first is to summarise how and why women-headed households have come to be widely equated with the ‘poorest of the poor’ in development discourse. The second is to trace the evolution of challenges to this stereotype from a growing and increasingly diverse body of macro- and micro-level research. The third is to explore some of the implications and outcomes of competing constructions of female household headship, especially in relation to policy. At one end of the spectrum, what kinds of attitudes and actions flow out of the mantra that female-headed households are the ‘poorest of the poor’? At the other extreme, what happens when the links between the ‘feminisation of poverty’ and the ‘feminisation of household headship’ are disrupted? In particular, I am concerned to reflect on the potential consequences of acknowledging that the epithet ‘women-headed households are the poorest of the poor’ may be more ‘fable’ than ‘fact’.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
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Additional Information: Copyright © 2003 Sylvia Chant. LSE has developed LSE Research Online so that users may access research output of the School. Copyright and Moral Rights for the papers on this site are retained by the individual authors and/or other copyright owners. Users may download and/or print one copy of any article(s) in LSE Research Online to facilitate their private study or for non-commercial research. You may not engage in further distribution of the material or use it for any profit-making activities or any commercial gain. You may freely distribute the URL (<>) of the LSE Research Online website.
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2006
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 11:32

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