Women And Poverty Essay

3404 words - 14 pages

This essay will examine how women have been treated by the welfare state and the social security system by successive governments since the introduction of the 1942 Beveridge Report. It will also examine the expected roles of married women from a feminist perspective by looking upon research carried out by N. Timmins who was opposed to Beveridge’s recommendations. The essay will also briefly discuss the research by G.P. Murdock in Social Structures and that of A. Oakley in the gendered roles of men and women in society. Finally, it will observe how the labour market discriminates against women and traps them in poverty throughout their working life and how these inequalities affect women in later life when they retire.

‘Women are at far greater risk of poverty than men: at any given stage in their lives, women are far more likely than men to be poor and their experience of poverty is also likely to be far more acute’ (Wright, 1992 p17). Poverty has been defined as a relative multidimensional and dynamic phenomenon, which in the United Kingdom (UK) has a female face, as historical data for the past hundred years has provided a constant depiction of women’s experience of deprivation (Ruspini, 2011). Regardless of attempts to promote equality between the sexes, gender still remains a key organising principle in society. This is especially the case within the social security system where the labour market is segregated horizontally and vertically and beset by persistent pay gaps and hours of work that varies by gender; a division of labour in the household, with men working long hours outside the home and women working fewer hours but undertaking more unpaid caring work; and the distribution of resources and ownership between men and women as adult partners within the household (Veithch & Bennett, 2010). Women’s poverty rates are higher than those of white British men; among women they are lowest for white British women followed by Chinese, Indian, Black Caribbean, and Black African women. Pakistani and Bangladeshi women have extremely high poverty rates of approximately 50%, and their children are likely to be poor and remain poor (Nandi & Platt, 2010).

The participation of women during World War Two (WW2) was seen as a revolution as women undertook active roles within society. During WW2, many men were away fighting, leaving the country in desperate need. Many job opportunities enabled women to prove they could make a valid contribution to their country by keeping Britain economically functioning. Many male roles were undertaken by women, at a time when the country needed to continue to provide public services. Women sought jobs as train conductors, or worked heavy machinery in factories, roles that had been predominantly for males. ‘For many women these measures meant a reconstruction of their feminine identity as they reinvented themselves as new, capable workers able to take on tasks they never would have imagined they could do...

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