The Feminization of Poverty

A Critical Analysis


  • Cassandra Lauren Melo Former York University Nursing Student (Current Registered Nurse)



poverty, social determinants of health, societal norms, patriarchal power, marginalization


Poverty among women and girls remains a prevalent social justice and health issue that stunts the life potential and freedom of females throughout the globe.  Through referencing four published articles, this text explores the incidence of poverty among women and girls due to gender discrimination, sexist ideologies and practices, and oppression on the basis of gender.  Due to the presence of mechanisms that disproportionately generate poverty among females, many girls and women are automatically confined to a life that uniquely strips them of their inherent rights to dictate their future, and are instead forced into a life of perpetual suffering, violence, social exclusion, and ultimately, impoverishment.  Examining this issue from a feminist lens is imperative in understanding the inner complexities of how women and girls in different areas of the world experience disadvantages on the basis of gender, especially from a social, political, cultural, and economic perspective.  This can allow healthcare providers, such as nurses, to be able to examine such issues from a critical thinking lens, and become increasingly politically active and involved in female advocacy efforts and policy reform.  Through nurses becoming increasingly involved in such efforts, dramatic positive change in the lives of women and girls throughout the globe can occur.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Cassandra Lauren Melo, Former York University Nursing Student (Current Registered Nurse)

Cassandra Melo, RN, BScN (Honours), is a Registered nurse with the City of Toronto. 


Almodóvar-Reteguis, N., Kushnir, K., & Meilland, T. (2012). Mapping the legal gender gap in using property and building credit. Washington DC. Retrieved from

Barrientos, S. (2014). Gender and global value chains: Challenges of economic and social upgrading in agri-food. Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies. Research Paper No. RSCAS 2014/96. Available at SSRN: DOI:

Bent, K. N. (1993). Perspectives on critical and feminist theory in developing nursing praxis. Journal of Professional Nursing, 9(5), 296-303. DOI:

Bhagavatheeswaran, L., Nair, S., Stone, H., Isac, S., Hiremath, T., Raghavendra T., … Beattie, T. S. (2016). The barriers and enablers to education among scheduled caste and scheduled tribe adolescent girls in northern karnataka, south india: A qualitative study. International Journal of Educational Development, 49, 262-270. DOI:

Bhanji, S. M., & Punjani, N. S. (2014). Determinants of child (early) marriages among young girls- a public health Issue. Journal of Women’s Health Care, 3(3).

Chant, S. (2006). Re‐thinking the “feminization of poverty” in relation to aggregate gender indices. Journal of Human Development, 7(2), 201-220. DOI:

Chant, S. (2015). The ‘feminization of poverty’: A reflection 20 Years after beijing. [Blog Post]. Retrieved March 2019, from

De Vita, L., Mari, M., & Poggesi, S. (2014). Women entrepreneurs in and from developing countries: Evidences from the literature. European Management Journal, 32(3), 451-460. DOI:

Edmonson, C., McCarthy, C., Trent-Adams, S., McCain, C., Marshall, J. (2017). Emerging global health issues: A nurse’s role. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 22(1).

Fukuda-Parr, S. (1999). What does feminization of poverty mean? It isn’t just lack of income. Feminist Economics, 5(2), 99-103. DOI:

Heckert, J., & Fabic, M. (2013). Improving data concerning women’s empowerment in sub-saharan africa. Studies in Family Planning, 44(3), 319-344. Retrieved from JSTOR database. DOI:

Huisman, J., & Smits, J. (2009). Effects of household- and district-level factors on primary school enrollment in 30 developing countries. World Development, 37(1), 179-193. DOI:

Kabeer, N. (2015). Gender, poverty, and inequality: A brief history of feminist contributions in the field of international development. Gender & Development, 23(2), 189-205. DOI:

Kabeer, N. (2005). Gender equality and women's empowerment: A critical analysis of the third millennium development goal 1. Gender & Development, 13(1), 13-24. DOI:

Kidman, R. (2016). Child marriage and intimate partner violence: A comparative study of 34 countries. International Journal of Epidemiology, 46(2), 663-675. DOI:

Madan, K., & Breuning, M. H. (2013). Impact of prenatal technologies on the sex ratio in india: An overview. Genetics in Medicine: Official Journal of the American College of Medical Genetics, 16(6), 425–432. DOI:

Maluli, F., & Bali, T. (2014). Exploring experiences of pregnant and mothering secondary school students in tanzania. Research on Humanities and Social Sciences, 4(1), 80-88. Retrieved from Google Scholar

Mpanza, N. D., & Nzima, D. R. (2010). Attitudes of educators towards teenage pregnancy. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 5, 431–439. Retrieved from Google Scholar. DOI:

Oomman, N., & Ganatra, B. R. (2002). Sex selection: The systematic elimination of girls. Reproductive health matters, 10(19), 184–197. DOI:

Parsons, J., Edmeades, J., Kes, A., Petroni, S., Sexton, M., & Wodon, Q. (2015). Economic impacts of child marriage: A review of the literature. The Review of Faith & International Affairs, 13(3),12-22. DOI:

Premji, S. S., & Hatfield, J. (2016). Call to action for nurses/nursing. BioMed Research International, 2016, 1-5. DOI:

Roby, J. L., Lambert, M., & Lambert J. (2009). Barriers to girls' education in mozambique at household and community levels: An exploratory study. International Journal of Social Welfare, 18(4), 342-353. DOI:

Schütte, S. (2014). Living with patriarchy and poverty: Women’s agency and the spatialities of gender relations in afghanistan. Gender, Place & Culture, 21(9), 1176-1192. DOI:

Seema, J. The roots of gender inequality in developing countries. (2014). NBER Working Paper No. 20380. Available at SSRN:

Sekine, K., & Hodgkin, M. E. (2017). Effect of child marriage on girls' school dropout in nepal: Analysis of data from the multiple indicator cluster survey 2014. PLOS One, 12(7). DOI:

Sen, A. (1990). More than 100 million women are missing. New York Review of Books, 20.

Shayan, Z. (2015). Gender inequality in education in afghanistan: Access and barriers. Open Journal of Philosophy, 5, 277-284. DOI:

Sicchia, S. R., & Maclean, H. (2006). Globalization, poverty and women's health: Mapping the connections. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 97(1), 69-71. Retrieved from Nursing & Allied Health database DOI:

Sigma Global Nursing Excellence. (2016). Influence through policy: Nurses have a unique role. In Influence through policy: Nurses have a unique role. Retrieved March 2019, from

Sommer, M., Ackatia-Armah, N., Connolly, S. & Smiles, D. (2015). A comparison of the menstruation and education experiences of girls in tanzania, ghana, cambodia and ethiopia. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 45(4), 589-609. DOI:

Spencer-Wood, S. M. (2011). Commentary: How feminist theory increases our understanding of the archaeology of poverty. Historical Archaeology, 45(3), 183-193. Retrieved from JSTOR database. DOI:

Sultana, S., Guimbretiere, F., Sengers, P., & Dell, N. (2018). Design within a patriarchal society: Opportunities and challenges in designing for rural women in bangladesh. CHI, 1-13. DOI:

Tarar, M. G., & Pulla, V. (2014). Patriarchy, gender violence and poverty amongst pakistani women: A social work inquiry. International Journal of Social Work and Human Services Practice, 2(2), 56-63.

Tyer-Viola, L., Nicholas P. K., Corless, I. B., Barry, D.M., Hoyt, P., Fitzpatrick, J. J, & Davis, S. M. (2009). Social responsibility of nursing: A global perspective. Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice, 10(2), 110-119. DOI:

Tyer-Viola, L. A., Cesario, S. K. (2010). Addressing poverty, education, and gender equality to improve the health of women worldwide. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 39, 580-589. DOI:

UNICEF. (2014). Ending Child Marriage: Progress and Prospects. New York: United Nations Children’s Fund

United Nations Statistics Division. (2015). The world's women 2015: Trends and statistics. Retrieved March, 2019, from

UN Women. (2018). Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Retrieved March 2019, from

Wilson, L., Mendes, I. A. C., Klopper, H., Catrambone, C., Al-Maaitah, R., Norton, M. E., & Hill, M. (2016). 'Global health' and 'global nursing': Proposed definitions from the global advisory panel on the future of nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 72(7), 1529-1540. DOI:

Wodon, Q., Male, C., Nayihouba, A., Onagoruwa, A., Savadogo, A., Yedan, A., … Petroni, S. (2017). Economic impacts of child marriage: Global synthesis report. Washington, DC: World Bank Group. Retrieved March 2019 from,

Woods, N. (2009). A global imperative: Development, safety, and health from girl child to woman. Health Care for Women International, 30(3), 195-214. DOI:

World Bank Group. (2014). Voice and agency: Empowering women and girls for shared prosperity. Retrieved March 2019, from

World Bank. (2014). Women, business, and the law 2014: Removing restrictions to enhance gender equality (Vol. 2). Washington, DC. Retrieved from

World Health Organization. (2009). Women and health: Today's evidence tomorrow's agenda. Retrieved February, 2019, from




How to Cite

Melo, C. L. (2019). The Feminization of Poverty: A Critical Analysis. Witness: The Canadian Journal of Critical Nursing Discourse, 1(1), 73–81.



Undergraduate Nursing Student Scholarship