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Progressive social change - women's empowerment

Briefing/policy paper

Written by Caroline Harper, Nicola Jones

Briefing/policy paper

This paper focuses on the poverty trap of social discrimination and highlights the ways in which men and women, girls and boys experience poverty in different ways. Given women’s central role in producing, maintaining and reproducing the population (child bearing and raising, care of the family, sick and elderly), policy measures to support women’s empowerment can have multiple positive spill-over effects on women’s well-being as well as childhood poverty and household poverty in general. The paper proposes three key policy areas which can enable social change to empower women and alleviate gendered dimensions of poverty: equitable access to basic services, equitable access to education at all levels; an enabling environment for gender-aware social movements. Social movements can challenge exploitative relations that hold back livelihoods, and contest the stereotyping that reinforces chronic poverty. It is therefore suggested that the development community should do everything it can to facilitate an enabling environment for gender-aware social movements. Promoting and protecting human and civil rights, and a strong and autonomous legal system, are key first steps.

Tim Braunholtz-Speight, Caroline Harper and Nicola Jones