United Nations


Commission on the Status of Women

24 February 1995

Thirty-ninth session
New York, 15 March-4 April 1995
Item 3 (b) of the provisional agenda

                         FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN

       Second review and appraisal of the implementation of the Nairobi
            Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women

                        Report of the Secretary-General


                                                              Paragraphs  Page


      A. Trends in the global economy and in economic 
         restructuring as they relate to the 
         advancement of women .............................     8 - 52      4

      B. Gender aspects of internal and external migration     53 - 60     25

      C. Trends in international trade and their influence
         on the advancement of women ......................    61 - 73     28

      D. Other factors affecting the implementation of the
         Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies ...............    74 - 77     31

II.   CRITICAL AREAS OF CONCERN ............................   78 - 145    32

      A. Persistent and growing burden of poverty on
         women ............................................    78 - 115    32

      B. Poverty in terms of different groups of women ....   116 - 126    49

      C. Women, poverty and the environment ...............   127 - 132    52

      D. Means of eradicating female poverty ..............   133 - 145    53


1.   Since the adoption in 1985 of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for
the Advancement of Women, 1/ the world has experienced far-reaching economic,
political and social changes.  In response to the economic crisis of the
1980s, greater emphasis was placed on policies of structural adjustment,
economic liberalization and improved governance.  These policies, together
with the expansion of the world trade and international financial markets and
with rapid technological innovation, strengthened long-term trends towards
globalization, integration of markets and internationalization of production. 
As a consequence of these trends, the world economy became more interdependent
and thus more vulnerable to economic and political upheavals as national
economic policies acquired widespread international ramifications.  Together,
these changes led to economic restructuring that has shaped the development
process in recent years and has had a significant impact - both positive and
negative - on women's participation in development and on their economic,
political and social status.

2.   Perceptions of the meaning, causes and conditions of development have
been significantly modified.  The development debate now emphasizes
sustainability and human-centred and gender-responsive development.  In
parallel with the evolution of the development debate there have been changes
in the perception and content of what are known as Women in Development
issues.  The role of women in development is no longer perceived as almost
exclusively linked with broad issues of public health and population policies
such as nutrition, child-rearing and family planning; women are now recognized
as agents of change, as an economic force in themselves and as a valuable
resource without which progress in development would be limited.  While there
have been many global changes over the past decade, the most dramatic for the
lives of most individual women have been the changes in the economy.

3.   A number of shifts in economic activity have come to be understood as
resulting from the interaction between the allocation by women of their time
and incomes and economic variables that include prices, consumption patterns
and production techniques.  Women's actions in the economic sphere have come
to be viewed as actively shaping economic development and not merely being
influenced by it.  Consequently, within the Women in Development agenda there
has been a shift towards greater emphasis on economic growth, sound economic
policies and productive employment as the areas of prime concern for the
economic advancement of women.

4.   More often than not, the economic reforms of the past decade were part of
something larger than the simple restructuring of an economic domain.  In many
developing economies and economies in transition, economic reforms were part
of a movement towards greater democracy, freedom and human rights. 
Precipitated to some extent by failures in economic development caused by
extensive governmental intervention in resource allocation and production
decision-making, the rapid process of democratization led to new opportunities
as well as to new obstacles for women's advancement.

5.   While providing genuine opportunities for women in transitional and
developing economies to participate in the political, economic and social life
of their societies on an equal footing with men, democratization unleashed a
variety of competitive claims on economic resources and on the political
agenda by different political, ethnic, cultural and religious groups.  The
absence of democratic institutions and the other elements of civil society
that serve to separate conflicting interests and turn the power struggle into
a truly democratic process for all led, at least initially, to the
marginalization of vulnerable groups that lacked a sufficient economic and
political power base.

6.   These changes have been found in all regions but have been particularly
marked in terms of the situation of women in Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth
of Independent States the Baltic States and other transitional States whose
economies have deteriorated, especially in terms of ability to influence the
process of economic and political decision-making.  There, the general absence
of the necessary civil institutions, an effective women's movement and of
formal women's organizations capable of articulating women's interests and
fighting for them in the competitive free-market environment led, at least
during the first years of reform, to the exclusion of women from full
participation in economic and political decision-making and to a loss of
equality in terms of economic opportunities and advancement.

7.   Changes in the work and lives of women all over the world are intricately
related to changes in the global economic, social and political environment
and to policy responses made within that framework.  The traditional division
of labour, differential access to factors of production and differences in the
consumption patterns of men and women cause apparently gender-neutral policies
to have a gender-specific outcome.  Numerous studies show that the short-term
costs of adjustment and stabilization are often distributed disproportionately
so that women come to bear a greater share of the burden.  On the other hand,
there is evidence of a strong relationship between economic growth and the
economic advancement of women. 2/  International economic conditions therefore
form a backdrop against which the progress made in the implementation of the
Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women should be

          A.  Trends in the global economy and in economic restructuring
              as they relate to the advancement of women

8.   Three interrelated sets of phenomena have shaped the world economy in the
recent past and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.  They

     (a)  The various responses to the economic and political crisis of the
1980s (structural adjustment in developing countries, industrial restructuring
and the change of emphasis in macroeconomic policy-making in the developed
market economies and economic and political transition in the economies in the
former USSR and Eastern Europe);

     (b)  Rapid technological innovation and its implications for the
organization of work and for income distribution;

     (c)  Growing economic interdependence and globalization of markets and

Together, these phenomena comprised what was termed a process of economic
restructuring.  This process affected women's socio-economic position in a
complex and multidimensional way, causing changes in the level, patterns and
conditions of female employment and modifying women's social roles.

               1.  Developing countries:  structural adjustment and
                   its impact on women

9.   The world recession profoundly affected the majority of developing
countries, particularly in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the
Middle East.  Those in Asia as a whole proved more resilient, though here,
too,  individual countries, such as the  Philippines, were adversely affected
by external shocks and global developments.  Reduced demand for primary
products, falling commodity prices, high and rising interest rates, the
virtual disappearance after 1982 of private bank lending, and, in the case of
the Middle East, the collapse of the regional oil economy in the mid-1980s all
contributed to a steady worsening of the balance of payments and the virtual
doubling of the external debt burden in the period 1983-1993.  For the most
part, the response of the developing countries has been to institute
programmes of stabilization and structural adjustment designed to bring their
economies into line with the new realities of the international marketplace
and undertaken, more often than not, under the auspices of the international
financial institutions.

10.  In the past decade a large number of developing countries went through
the experience of structural adjustment.  In fact, the decade came to be known
as the "decade of structural adjustment" as the World Bank made 59 adjustment
loans between 1980 and 1988 3/ to assist countries with protracted
balance-of-payments problems to stabilize their economies and correct
distortions causing inefficiency.  Policies were thus directed towards
allocative efficiency, international competitiveness, market deregulation,
"getting prices right", reduction of budget deficits and control of inflation.

In the developing countries these policies were employed within the context of
structural adjustment, which came to be viewed not only as a response to
economic disequilibria but also as a prerequisite for long-term sustainable
development.  The divergence in economic performance among regions at the end
of the decade reflected the varied experience of structural adjustment
programmes.  In some countries, the reform programme resulted in the
resumption of growth, while in others political tensions and the erosion of
human capital have hampered growth and decreased the production base.  In
recent years, some critics have argued that structural adjustment policies
have not incorporated country- and gender-specific issues sufficiently.

11.  While structural adjustment policies have been gender-neutral in design
and implementation, it is now widely recognized that the social and economic
inequalities of women in many countries have rendered them specially
vulnerable to the effects of structural adjustment.  However, this recognition
has yet to be translated into gender-sensitive development planning. 
Methodological and theoretical difficulties, together with a lack of proper
gender-disaggregated time-series data on the impact on women of structural
adjustment, preclude any in-depth empirical assessment of the gender-related
aspects.  A significant body of analysis nevertheless exists and is based on
inferences from the effects of economic policies on main macroeconomic
aggregates and a priori knowledge of  differences in the ways women and men
allocate their labour and income and of differences in their access to
productive resources and public services.  The uneven distribution of the
short-term costs of structural adjustment between men and women is
particularly evident with respect to decline in real income, loss of
employment opportunities, deterioration of employment conditions and
exacerbation of pressures related to reproduction and maintenance of human
resources in the context of lagged supply response, rising prices and cut-offs
in public expenditure.

12.  The structural adjustment policies of the 1980s lacked gender awareness
both at the conceptual level and in implementation.  The underlying
macroeconomic model did not take account of the fact that women are often
unable to respond adequately to the opportunities presented in the context of
expenditure-switching policies and to changes in relative prices and the
incentives resulting from them for the reallocation of resources, because of
persisting inequalities in gender relations and constraints posed by the
sexual division of labour.  Some analysts suggest that the social costs of
adjustment have been shifted from the State to the household and to women in
the household.  As a result, structural adjustment policies in the 1980s were
less efficient in the reallocation of female than of male labour, and less
sustainable than they could have been if gender issues were taken into
account.  Economic development theory and planning have not yet addressed this
problem fully.

13.  However, should the emphasis on human investment that is being written
into the third generation of structural adjustment packages continue, women
could benefit from this new departure. 4/  This however, requires a conscious
effort on the part of national and international policy makers to write a
gender dimension into all projects and programmes, as much at the formulation
stage as at the implementation level.

     (a)  Latin America and the Caribbean

14.  Structural adjustment has been particularly intense in the economies of
Latin America, where external indebtedness aggravated by falling commodity
prices and increased interest rates caused a deep recession throughout the
1980s.  The average annual growth rate of GDP in Latin America and the
Caribbean in the 1980s was only 1 per cent as against 5.5 per cent in the
1970s. 5/  The decade was indeed "lost" for development as the annual average
change in per capita GDP reached -0.1 per cent after having been at 2.0 per
cent during the preceding decade 6/ (table 1).  These changes were accompanied
by worsening of income distribution which is now more inequitable in Latin
America and the Caribbean than anywhere else in the world. 7/

          Table 1.  Growth of world output and per capita GDP, 1971-1994
                    (annual average percentage changes)

                                                           Growth of real GDP
                                                              per capita
                                                          (annual percentage
                   Growth of GDP (annual rates)                change)        

             -----------------------------------------   --------------------
                 1971-   1981-                                    1974-  1984-
                 1980    1990    1991    1992    1993      1994   1983   1993
World             3.9     2.9     0.3     0.8     1.1       2.5
Developed market
 economies        3.1     2.6     0.7     1.6     1.0       2.5    2.3    2.1
 in transition    5.2     2.5    -9.0   -16.8   -10.0      -6.0    ..    -2.9
 economies        5.6     3.2     3.4     4.9     5.2       5.0    1.8    1.9
   Latin America
   and Caribbean  5.5     1.0     2.8     2.1     3.3       2.7    0.9    0.5
   Africa         4.9     0.5     1.6     0.9     1.7       2.2    0.7   -1.1
   West Asia      6.5    -0.2    -0.2     5.7     3.5       3.5   -1.8   -2.9
   South and
   East Asia      5.8     7.0     5.3     5.2     5.4       6.2    3.5    3.8
   China          5.9     9.0     8.0    13.2    13.4      10.0    4.9    8.4
   Mediterranean  5.3     3.2    -5.6    -1.9    -0.3       4.0    2.2   -0.9

     Source:  World Economic Survey, 1990 and 1993 (United Nations
publications, Sales Nos. E.90.II.C.1 and E.91.II.C.1); World Economic and
Social Survey, 1994 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.94.II.C.1). 
Forecast is based on Project LINK.  Estimates are rounded to the nearest half
percentage point.  Growth of world output, 1971-1994, and per capita GDP, by
country groups.

15.  In the Latin American region, the adjustment process was both
recessionary and regressive, and this was reflected above all in real wages
and in employment.  Thus, serious problems and difficulties remain, most
obviously in the form of persistently high rates of poverty, the inequitable
income distribution and, quite often, a deterioration in the provision of
social services, which not only renders current democratic processes fragile,
but also calls into question the sustainability and indeed the very nature of
the economic recovery so far achieved.  In addition, only a handful of
countries have managed to fully consolidate the adjustment and stabilization
policies undertaken, and the process is marked by many interruptions. 8/

16.  The impact of the debt problem and the structural adjustment programmes
has been especially severe in the Caribbean countries, with direct
consequences for women's unpaid work, migration, human rights violations,
domestic violence, sexual exploitation and availability of and access to
health services.  As for the particular case of Haiti, it was said that the
difficulties were so extreme that they went beyond the parameters of the
situation in the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean. 9/

17.  The growth of the informal sector was the main variable in the
readjustment of the Latin American labour market in the early 1980s.  The rise
in unemployment and informality was accompanied by massive declines in wage
and a sharp rise in the precariousness of employment.  Temporary and part-time
work became increasingly widespread, while the overall quality of employment
declined.  Aside from the difficulty of measuring female participation in the
informal and precarious sector, it can be said that the poorest women workers
are to be found in the urban informal sector and that, if domestic employment
is added, women's participation is above 70 per cent in most cases. 
Information on some countries of the region, based on household surveys, shows
that women account for between 8 per cent (Panama) and 64 per cent
(Cochabamba, Bolivia) of the informal sector workforce. 10/

     (b)  Sub-Saharan Africa

18.  In Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, economic conditions remain
bleak, despite some modest improvement in current growth.  Economic decline
hit bottom in the mid-1980s when even nominal GDP growth rates turned
negative. 11/  Out of the region's 45 countries, 28 suffered a decline in real
GDP per capita.  The decade of 1990s started with a minor improvement as
growth in 1993 picked up to 1.7 per cent, which is still, however, well below
the average annual population growth rate of 2.9 per cent for the period of
1985-1990.  There has also been some modest improvement in sub-Saharan
Africa's terms of trade, which suffered a decline during the 1980s and the
early 1990s.

                Table 2.  Sub-Saharan Africa:  selected economic and
                          development indicators, 1980 and 1990

                                           1980         1990      Percentage
Per capita GNP                             582          335          -42.4
Per capita consumption                     465          279          -40.0
Investment (percentage of GDP)              20.2         14.2        -29.7
Exports of goods                            54.9         38.5        -29.9
Total external debt                         56.2        146.9        161.4
Per capital food production index          107           94          -12.1
Memo item:  Women in labour force           39.3         37.6         -4.3

     Source:  African Development Indicators (Washington, D.C., World Bank,

19.  Poverty and deprivation in sub-Saharan Africa continue to deepen.  A
regional classification by integrated poverty index 12/ reveals that 36 out of
the 45 countries in sub-Saharan Africa were in the severe poverty group. 13/ 
The situation has been aggravated by civil conflicts, 14/ which have destroyed
physical capital, institutions and infrastructure in at least eight
countries. 15/  To make matters worse, the region has been hit hard by the
AIDS epidemic, which is inflicting high costs on the economy and society
through its adverse effects on productivity and savings.  Africa is home to 50
per cent of all HIV-infected people and the proportion of women among AIDS
victims in Africa is larger than in North America and Europe and continues to
grow. 16/

20.  Despite the resumption in the early 1990s of the inflow of capital to
developing economies, Africa remains excluded from access to international
financial resources.  In conjunction with the terms-of-trade decline, the
persistently negative net financial resources transfer to Africa led to a
significant worsening of external balances in African and particularly
sub-Saharan economies.  In addition, official development assistance may not
be as forthcoming as it was in the 1980s because of greater demands on it
around the world and the shrinking supply of resources.  There is therefore a
considerable risk that the inflow of resources to the African region will be
inadequate in comparison to its development needs and the restoration of
economic stability.  This will of course, have serious consequences for
investment and growth in the region.

21.  General economic decline, deindustrialization and political instability
in Africa have inhibited the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking
Strategies in that region.  Government expenditure cuts have led to widespread
layoffs in public-sector enterprises.  Employment in the private sector is
also in decline as a result of aggregate demand deflation caused by
stabilization and adjustment policies.  The urban unemployment rate is
currently between 15 and 20 per cent, up from 10 per cent in the 1970s. 
Women, although a minority in the public sector, 17/ appear to have fared
worse than men as a result of public sector retrenchment.  In Benin, for
example, women's share in parastatal employment was only 6 per cent, but their
share among workers laid off was 21 per cent. 18/

22.  Women in Africa have long been concentrated in the informal sector in
such activities as petty trade, small-scale production and personal services. 
Despite the widespread perception of the informal sector as infinitely elastic
with respect to the absorption of female labour, recent figures indicate the
opposite.  Table 3 shows that the percentage share of women in the informal
sector in selected sub-Saharan African countries declined between 1985 and
1990.  In 1990 the share of women in the informal sector in these countries
was lower than it had been in the 1970s in all but two countries.  That the
female share of informal-sector employment declined despite the increase in
the supply of female labour brought about by the "added worker" 19/ effect of
structural adjustment indicates that women may have encountered difficulties
in entering the sector that had traditionally provided them with
income-earning opportunities.  One explanation might be competition from the
men who lost their jobs in the public sector as a result of structural
adjustment policies.  In most African countries men predominate in
public-sector employment and consequently constitute the majority of redundant
workers when public expenditures are contracted under policies of structural
adjustment.  They are better equipped with capital and business contacts, and
their entry into the sector may have driven women's businesses out.  On the
other hand, informal-sector employment is by definition very difficult to
measure.  Given the low unemployment figures for women in the region and the
fact that poor women in Africa simply cannot afford to be unemployed, the
declining rates of informal-sector participation may mean greater
precariousness for sources of women's income as they resort to informal
survival responses at times of economic hardship.

23.  The most likely explanation of the declining share of women in the
informal sector, however, is the overall economic decline of sub-Saharan
Africa.  Reduction in real income and contraction of aggregate demand has
caused a decline in demand for informal-sector goods and services.  The
shortage of investable funds and the high cost of credit have not been
conducive to the sector's expansion and are likely to drive a number of
informal entrepreneurs out of business.  Poor access to credit and labour
crowding have made women entrepreneurs particularly vulnerable to the decline
in informal-sector earnings and loss of business.  Despite the limited
counteracting influence of the substitution effect (i.e., the increase in
demand for the cheaper goods and services of the informal sector owing to the
downward pressure on income), the information available (table 3) seems to
suggest that the net effect on women's business in the informal sector was
that of contraction.

           Table 3.  Female share of employment in the informal sector,

Country                           1970         1980         1985         1990
Congo                             26.7         26.9         26.8         24.6
Ghana                             32.0         32.0         32.0         27.3
Guinea                            31.9         32.0         32.0         26.8
Liberia                           42.8         43.2         43.0         39.3
Madagascar                        33.3         33.1         32.8         29.0
Kenya                             31.3         31.0         31.1         36.7
Nigeria                           29.8         30.0         30.0         25.9
Somalia                           32.1         31.9         32.0         34.6
Togo                              38.6         39.0         39.0         32.2
United Republic of Tanzania       30.3         30.0         30.0         28.4
Zaire                             37.3         37.0         37.0         24.9

     Source:  African Employment Report (ILO, Geneva, 1990).  Cited in
S. Baden, "The impact of recession and structural adjustment on women in
developing countries", ILO paper, December 1993.

     (c)  Asia and the Pacific

24.  During the recession of the 1980s and early 1990s, the economies of East
Asia as a whole proved relatively more resilient to the worsening of the
external economic environment largely because of greater outward orientation
of economic policies and greater diversification of the production base.  The
economies of the region grew on average by 7 per cent annually during the
1980s and have maintained over 5 per cent growth since the beginning of the
current decade.  Economic performance has, however, varied from 1.7 per cent
growth in the Philippines to 8 per cent growth in Malaysia, Singapore,
Thailand and Viet Nam. 20/  There has been a notable decline in the dependency
of economic growth in the region on the performance of the developed market
economies; as intraregional trade has been growing faster than the total trade
of these economies, the structure of their exports has continued to veer
towards manufactures and the inflow of external capital has increased.  The
economies of East Asia are likely to remain the fastest growing in the 1990s,
but rates of growth are expected to slow down as they begin to run into
infrastructure and environmental constraints.

25.  The South Asian economies grew on average by 5 per cent annually during
the 1980s.  Unlike growth in the rest of the developing world, this was an
improvement over the proceeding decade.  Faced with external financial crises,
major economies in the region embarked on structural adjustment and
stabilization policies.  Future prospects for growth depend on the maintenance
and consistency of these reforms.  The inward looking import-substitution
policies followed by the economies of the region for decades led to the
inhibition of factor-market flexibility and, in some cases, to the loss of
economic stability.  The region continues to be home to the majority of the
world's poor.  In 1990 the proportion of the population of South Asia whose
income and consumption fell below the nationally defined poverty line was
49 per cent. 21/  Most of the region's poor are concentrated in the rural
areas, and poverty among women is on the rise. 22/

26.  In the 1980s widespread poverty and unemployment 23/ in the countries of
South and South-East Asia prompted a flow of international migration from the
region to the capital-exporting economies of Western Asia.  A significant
number of women from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, India,
Bangladesh and Thailand became temporary migrant workers in the Western Asia
region.  In Kuwait, for example, 103,501 migrant women were employed as
domestic workers in 1989, constituting 5.1 per cent of the population of the
country.  In Saudi Arabia, there were 219,000 non-Saudi Asian female workers
in 1986. 24/  However, the collapse of the oil economy, the Gulf crisis of
early 1991 and the eight years of the Iran-Iraq war led to a decline of
capital surplus in the region.  In some cases capital surplus disappeared
completely and some countries had to turn to international capital markets to
borrow money to finance wars and later reconstruction efforts.  The adverse
economic and political circumstances in West Asia have caused a decline in
opportunities for migrant women and men, thereby worsening the external
payments position of the economies from which migration had originated.

27.  If only the quantitative aspect is considered, it is possible to say that
Asian women have benefited from the economic success of the region.  These
benefits are captured in the increase in labour force participation, sustained
over the last two decades, in the increased access to education for girls at
all levels, and in an increase in the ratio of women's to men's earnings, as
income accruing to women through productive employment has increased.

              Table 4.  Advancement of women in Asia and the Pacific:
                        selected indicators, 1970-1990

                                              1970       1980       1990
Education a/       
  First level                                 66.00      78.00      84.00
  Second level                                58.00      70.00      77.00
  Third level                                 46.00      63.00      84.00
  Science and technology b/                   33.00      45.00      70.00
Economic activity c/                          28.00      42.00      48.00
Employment in professional, technical,
 administrative and management fields         27.00      47.00      55.00
Wage ratio d/  
  Agriculture                                 74.00      78.00      79.00
  Manufacturing                               72.00      60.00      64.83

     Source:  WISTAT, version 3, 1994.

     a/   Average ratio of girls to boys in enrolment in schools (number of
girls per 100 boys).

     b/   Average ratio of girls to boys in science and technology fields at
third level of education.

     c/   Average ratio of women to men in the economically active population
(number of women per 100 men).

     d/   Percentages.

28.  Examined from a gender perspective, the development experience of the
East and South-East Asian economies suggests that female advancement is
directly related to policies of external openness and export promotion and
inversely related to policies of import substitution and protectionism. 
However, the fact that female employment expansion took place in these
economies in the context of comparative advantage in labour-intensive
production should not be overlooked.  As countries climb the "ladder of
comparative advantage", there is constant pressure to upgrade production and
modify micro- and macroeconomic management so as to take account of changes in
economic structure and relative prices.  In terms of the future of female
employment in export-oriented industries in the economies where development in
the last two decade has been driven by export expansion, the need for
technological upgrading translates into the need for skills acquisition and
better education and qualifications for female workers. Otherwise the benefits
accruing to women thus far from export-led development will simply vanish with
growth.  Recent evidence suggests that the share of female labour in
export-oriented industries is declining as skill requirements in export
industries shift with shifts in comparative advantage.  This, together with
evidence of poor access for women to retraining, indicates that the gains to
women's employment from the expansion of export-oriented industries might have
been a short-lived phenomenon. 25/

29.  The emergence of China as a major growth pole and trading power in the
region should serve as a catalyst of economic growth and intraregional trade. 
It should also pose significant competition for already established exporters
of labour-intensive manufactures in and outside the region.  China's index of
comparative advantage correlates significantly with that of four other large
developing countries - Egypt, India, Indonesia and Turkey. 15/  Arguably,
China's growing exports present a threat to female employment in such
industries as electronics, toys, textiles and apparel in the first generation
newly industrializing countries where the eventual tightening of the labour
market and rising labour costs pushed real wages up.  However, economic
history shows that, as far as female aggregate employment is concerned, shifts
in comparative advantage do not always result in winners and losers.  Owing to
a strong upward trend in female employment in the non-tradable service sector,
women's aggregate employment in the industrialized market economies continues
to grow despite increasing cost competitiveness of the developing economies.

30.  The outlook for the developing countries as a whole in the 1990s is
considerably brighter than in the previous decade.  One indicator of improved
growth is the net  transfer of financial resources, and this reached $54
billion in 1993, an amount not seen since the early 1980s. 20/  After years of
lost access to foreign credit and of capital flight, the Latin American
economies emerged from the depths of the debt crisis as "emerging markets"
attracting a considerable inflow of financial resources from the beginning of
the 1990s.  After almost a decade of being negative figures, net financial
transfers to the region reached US$ 12 billion in 1992 and are estimated at
almost US$ 19 billion for 1993.  The inflow of foreign direct investment and
greater access for the economies in question to international credit markets
are largely attributed to the success of the Brady Plan in reducing the face
value of their commercial debt and to comprehensive macro- and micro-economic
reforms that improved their competitiveness and creditworthiness. 26/

31.  The inflow of foreign capital to developing countries creates new jobs
and increases the demand for labour, including that of women.  Given progress
in economic reforms and political stability, the inflow of foreign capital can
expand employment opportunities for women in developing countries and thus
foster their economic advancement.  It should be noted, however, that the
conditions underlying competitiveness are changing and are coming to rely less
on natural assets like cheap labour and more on created assets in the form of
knowledge and skills.  Emerging patterns of flows and stocks of foreign direct
investment reveal that such assets have become the main determinant of foreign
direct investment location.  In view of women's poorer educational level - or
rather its less appropriate orientation, given modern needs - women in
developing countries are less likely to benefit from the inflows of foreign
direct investment and the expansion of the export industries associated with

              2.  Economies in transition: 27/  economic and political
                  restructuring and its impact on women

32.  While the former centrally planned economies of Central and Eastern
Europe and the Soviet Union were sheltered to some extent from the global
economic crisis of the early 1980s by an autarchic trade and production
regime, towards the end of the decade they too experienced a decline in
economic performance that was caused by a tightening of the resource
constraint on extensive growth, the inability to sustain growth through
technological progress, severe monetary disequilibria, and attempts at
economic reform in the context of structural rigidities and distortions. 
Since the end of the 1980s these countries have embarked on the road of
transition to a market economy and this has proved to be costly in terms of
real income and output decline, loss of employment and security, a rapid
deterioration in social conditions and deepening gender inequalities.

33.  The fundamental changes in trading patterns that followed the
disintegration of the Council on Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) and the
internal payments system led to a rapid deterioration in the current account
and to an accumulation of external debt.  Lack of commitment to tight monetary
policy and at times its political infeasibility fuelled inflation rates, which
in some countries approached a dangerously high near-hyper-inflation level. 
In response to high inflation, some countries in the region embarked on
"shock-therapy" macroeconomic stabilization. 28/  Where policy makers were
able to conduct a consistent monetary policy, this approach worked although
inflation still remained relatively high and the decline in output and income
continued.  Real wage decline took place in all the economies in transition,
but its magnitude varied from about 12 to 15 per cent in Hungary and the Czech
Republic to around 30 per cent in Poland. 29/

34.  The process of market building in economies in transition involves,
inter alia, changes in property rights and ownership structures. 30/ 
Privatization in the transition economies varies in terms of its methods,
speed and degree of success.  Privatization methods include sales through
local auctions, the distribution of privatization vouchers, the use of mutual
funds and other financial intermediaries, and sometimes "spontaneous"
privatization by the current management.  If the privatization of small-scale
enterprises, shops and restaurants has been relatively fast and painless, that
of large-scale government-owned enterprises has involved many economic
problems (such as the difficulty of making an adequate estimate of the market
value of the enterprise to be privatized) and social problems (such as the
displacement of workers and the loss of social benefits and job security). 
The emerging private economy covers a wide range of activities, from catering
to commercial law; and it takes a variety of forms, from limited liability and
joint stock companies to micro-enterprises and sole proprietorship.

         Table 5.  Rates of growth of GDP and external debt indicators a/
                   of economies in transition, 1983-1994

                           1988   1989  1990   1991   1992    1993   1994 b/
Economies in transition     3.4   2.1   -6.3   -9.0   -16.8   -8.6   -6.0
Eastern Europe              3.3   0.0  -11.8  -12.0    -6.2    0.8    2.2
Albania                      -     -    -9.0  -29.4    -6.0   11.0    6.0
Bulgaria                    3.7  -1.4   -9.1  -16.7   -13.0   -4.2   -0.5
Former Czechoslovakia       2.0   1.3   -4.7  -15.9    -7.2
  Czech Republic                                              -0.5    2.0
  Slovakia                                                    -4.7    0.0
German Democratic Republic  4.2   2.4  -25.1
Hungary                     1.9   3.8   -4.0  -11.9    -5.0   -2.0    0.0
Poland                      4.2   0.2  -12.0   -7.6     0.0    4.0    4.2
Romania                     2.4  -5.8   -7.4  -13.7   -15.0    1.0    1.2
Former Soviet Union
 and successor States       3.5   3.0   -4.0   -8.0   -20.0  -12.0   -9.2

              External debt and debt indicators for economies in
                           transition, 1983-1993 b/
                             (billions of dollars)

Former Soviet Union        27.1  53.9   59.8   67.5    78.7   86.1
Eastern Europe             65.1  82.6   91.1   99.5    95.4   95.6

    Source:  World Economic Survey, 1993 and 1994 (United Nations
publications, Sales Nos. E.93.II.C.1 and E.94.II.C.1).

    a/  Average growth rates and annual percentage changes.

    b/  Forecast.

35.  Privatization raises many complex issues with respect to its impact on
the economic status of women.  Generally speaking, it tends to increase their
chances of being laid off and to worsen their conditions of employment.  At
the same time, it offers opportunities for higher incomes and for
entrepreneurship.  Although it is rather difficult to determine with certainty
the direction of the impact of privatization on women in transitional
economies because the process is still at an early stage and because
gender-disaggregated data are lacking, it is possible to identify some early
trends.  It seems that, so far, privatization undertaken in the context of
stabilization policies and slow institutional change has adversely affected
women's economic position.  Where restructuring is directed at increasing the
profitability of privatized and commercialized enterprises, female clerical
and administrative jobs tend to be cut before male production-line jobs
because of perceptions of female labour as "expensive" owing to the associated
social benefits and protective legislation enjoyed by women in the past, and
of women as less efficient workers because of the burden of family
responsibilities.  Consequently, the privatization of large State firms had
strong and immediate impact on female employment because of the large numbers
of women employed by them in administrative and clerical positions.  Because
of the special protective measures that underpinned women's participation in
the labour force in the past and because of a resurgence of traditional
stereotypes of gender relations, women have had difficulty in securing their
jobs in privatized firms, or getting new jobs after being laid off.  An
industrial establishment survey carried by ILO in East-Central Europe in
1990-1993 shows a marked tendency for managers to give pronounced preference 
in recruitment to men, even in previously "women-dominated" sectors. 31/

36.  In the course of privatization and cost/production restructuring, the
sectoral distribution of female employment is changing.  An ILO survey of
Russian industry shows that, as privatized and commercialized State-owned 
enterprises undergo restructuring, there is a relatively small decline in the
share of female employment in the declining sectors of heavy industry and an
increase in the share of female employment in light, "feminized" industries
like textiles, garments and food-processing.  This trend points towards 
strengthening the already existing segregation of employment in industry,
"which inevitably leads to a decline in their relative wages and benefits".

37.  As transition progresses, female employment dynamics are beginning to
resemble those of industrialized market economies.  Despite the advantageous
position of women in the services sector at the beginning of reform, they seem
to be unable to consolidate their advantage in this sector.  As trade,
banking, insurance and financial services become more profitable men move into
these sectors in increasing numbers changing the employment ratio to their
advantage.   In Poland, for example, in the period 1989-1992 the employment
share of women declined in trade, banking, insurance and community and social
services, while that of men increased dramatically.  Male employment in trade
increased by 62 per cent and in banking and insurance by 80 per cent.  Similar
changes in the female and male shares of employment in trade, banking,
insurance and financial services took place in the Czech Republic.  There,
thus, appears to be a clear tendency towards convergence of high employment
shares of women (see table 6) in these branches with those much lower ones in
industrialized market economies.  The less profitable services like education,
health and social care continue to be women-dominated and women's employment
share in them is increasing.

             Table 6.  Share of women in the banking and insurance
                       industries in selected economies in        
                       transition, 1993                           

Country                                         Women's share (percentage)
Azerbaijan a/                                             48.80
Belarus a/                                                88.10
Czech Republic                                            68.58
Georgia a/                                                75.50
Hungary b/                                                74.38
Kazakhstan a/                                             85.30
Poland                                                    75.00
Romania                                                   79.38
Russian Federation a/                                     90.20
Slovakia                                                  79.40
Ukraine a/                                                88.80
Uzbekistan a/                                             61.10

         Source:  Economic Commission for Europe, "Regional review and
     appraisal of Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies" (E/ECE/RW/HLM).

         a/    1990.

         b/    Financial intermediaries.

38.  Unemployment is becoming a key area of concern for women in the
transitional economies.  While the steep decline in real income has made
women's wages a necessity for the survival of the household, jobs have become
scare and competition for them has intensified.  The vast majority of women
were little prepared for the loss of job security and the need to compete for
employment in a market environment.  Although highly educated, women appear to
be losing jobs to men even in previously "women-dominated" sectors of the
economy.  The rate of female unemployment is on the rise in all the economies
in transition except for the Czech Republic.  Women constitute by far the
largest share of all those registered as unemployed and are believed to be the
majority of those who are not registered.  The duration of unemployment is
longer for women than for men.  In the Russian Federation, for example, the
average time of registered unemployment is 4.6 months for women and less than
2 months for men. 32/

              Table 7.  Women's share in unemployment:  selected
                        countries, 1991               

Country                                          Women's share (percentage)
Bulgaria                                                   62.0
Hungary a/                                                 40.0
Kazakhstan b/                                              70.0
Poland                                                     52.0
Yugoslavia                                                 53.0
Romania                                                    85.0-90.0
Russian Federation c/                                      90.0
Slovak Republic                                            58.0
Ukraine d/                                                 65.0

     Source:  Compiled from several sources, and M. Fong, "Economic
restructuring and women's status in Eastern Europe", UNU/WIDER research paper
(Helsinki, 1991), pp. 6-9.

         a/    Quoted as "over 40 per cent".

         b/    National report of Kazakhstan.

         c/    1993 figure of ECE, 1994 (E/ECE/RW/HELM/1).

         d/    National report of Ukraine.  Quoted as "over 65 per cent".

39.  The position of women in the labour market is further complicated by
resurgence of the stereotyping of gender roles and a decline in the
availability of social services, particularly in the area of child care,
provided in the past by the State and by enterprises.  As a result of
budgetary pressures and privatization, child-care facilities have become less
available and more expansive.  The social costs of transition have thus been
shifted from the State to the household and ultimately to women.

40.  Growing unemployment among men, lack of child-care facilities and
increasing social tensions have precipitated the return of traditional
attitudes towards the role of women.  A public opinion survey conducted in
1991 in the Russian Federation reveals that a growing number of men feel that
women's place is the home.  In the media and the press, social problems have
been openly blamed on "too much emancipation of women".  Measures, such as
extended maternity leave and early retirement, have been introduced to
encourage women to stay at home.  As a result there is little sensitivity to
women's issues and to the growing "feminization of unemployment".

41.  So far, women in Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States
and the Baltic States have had to endure a greater share of the hardship of
transition.  Their participation in political decision-making has declined,
putting them in a poor position to influence the process of reform.  At the
same time, unemployment among women has grown and they presently account for a
greater share of the unemployed.  Their incomes have also declined and poverty
among women and the households headed by women has increased.  The balance
between their economic and reproductive roles has shifted towards a greater
emphasis on the latter owing to the strengthening of the traditional gender
contract.  Their distress has been intensified by growing social problems, and
rapid criminalization of society in many economies in transition.  Sexual
harassment against women, sexual abuse and prostitution, previously reported
to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against
Women as non-existent, are a reality now.  So there is a real danger that
women in that area might be further marginalized and find themselves on the
periphery of major economic and political structures.  This would have serious
implications for social equilibrium in the region and for the sustainability
of the transition process.  Failure to incorporate women would also lead to a
less than optimal economic performance in the transition period as 50 per cent
of the labour force that is highly educated and skilled would remain

            3.  Developed market economies:  growing flexibility in
                markets and women's work                           

42.  After the recession of the early 1980s, the developed market economies
experienced an unusually long period of economic expansion that slowed towards
the end of the decade and ended with the shallow recession of the early 1990s
(see table 1).  The current recovery has been slow:  in 1993 growth picked up
in the United States and Canada but remained unchanged in Japan and declined
in the major economies of Western Europe, except for the United Kingdom, where
the economy started to grow again.

43.  Recession and the slow recovery pushed the rate of unemployment up from
6 per cent in 1990 to 7.3 per cent in 1992 and 7.7 per cent in 1993. 20/ 
While relatively low in the United States and Japan, unemployment has become a
major problem in Western Europe, where rates reached 10-12 per cent in 1993. 
The unemployment rate is expected to increase in 1994 and possibly in 1995.

44.  Among the pressing macroeconomic concerns of the developed market
economies are structural fiscal deficits and a resurgence of inflation.  Their
macroeconomic policies have therefore been directed at fiscal consolidation
and they have assumed an anti-inflationary stance that might conflict with the
objective of a speedy economic recovery.

45.  The micro- and macroeconomic reforms of the late 1980s and early 1990s
encompassed a tightening of fiscal and monetary polices, flexibility and
deregulation of financial, product and labour markets, and an industrial
restructuring, that in part reflected a longer-term trend of structural shifts
involving changes in the roles of industry and services in economic growth. 
Industrial restructuring was also manifested in the move towards a "flexible
firm" to foster competitiveness and greater mobility in an environment of
ever- changing markets.  These policies have had a distinct impact on women's
position in the labour market, and on their rates, quality and conditions of

46.  The long-term trend in the developed market economies has been towards
increasing rates of female labour force participation for women and declining
rates for men (see figure I).  Against this long-term trend, there are
cyclical changes in the rates of female labour force participation that are
the result of recession, short-term macroeconomic policies and micro-economic

47.  The general worsening of the employment situation in the OECD economies
is currently a major concern for policy makers in these countries.  There has
been an increase in the rates of long-term unemployment and country reports
from the European region indicate that about 50 per cent of the unemployed in
some countries has been out of work for 12 months or more. 32/  While there
are variations in rates and patterns of unemployment among the developed
market economies, it appears that in the majority of OECD countries
unemployment rates for women are either comparable to those for men or lower. 
However, in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, unemployment
rates for women are significantly higher than those for men. 32/

48.  A consistent increase in the rate of female labour force participation
has taken place in the context of the expansion of the services sector.  The
share of total employment and women's employment in this sector have increased
in all the OECD countries, 25/ while the shares of employment in agriculture
and industry have declined, which explains the decline in male labour force
participation (see figure II).

        Figure I.  Labour-force participation rates, by sex, total OECD

             Labour-force participation rates, by sex, total OECD

                                  1973 - 1991

        Table 8.  Unemployment rates by sex:  selected OECD countries,

                              (Percentage share)

                                    1973      1979      1990      1992
United States  
  Men                                2.3       3.1       4.1       6.0
  Women                              2.3       3.2       3.3       4.4

  Men                                1.0       1.6       1.4       1.4
  Women                              0.5       1.1       1.3       1.3

United Kingdom 
  Men                                2.1       3.8       6.3      11.5
  Women                              0.3       1.3       2.0       3.2

  Men                                2.3       3.1       5.6       6.5
  Women                              1.3       3.5       7.8       8.5

  Men                                1.6       1.3       1.3       5.4
  Women                              2.1       1.6       1.2       3.5

     Source:  World Economic and Social Survey, 1994 (United Nations
  publication, Sales No. E.94.II.C.1).

           Figure II.  Changes in female share of total employment:
                       by sectors, 1973-1992                       

                 Changes in female share of total employment:

                            by sectors, 1973 - 1992

           in the fields of agriculture, industry and services      

      Statistics from the United States, France, Italy and United Kingdom

     Source:  OECD, Labour Force Statistics, cited 1971-1991 (Paris, 1993).

49.  Policies directed at the enhancement of internal and external
competitiveness were centred around the deregulation and flexibilization of
financial, product and labour markets.  They focused primarily on wage-
bargaining institutions, tax and social spending policies and employment
legislation perceived as hampering wage flexibility.  At the micro-level, the
flexibilization of markets was matched by industrial restructuring directed at
lean production strategies and the evolution of flexible firms, capable of
rapid expansion and contraction with a small number of permanent employees and
the remainder employed as temporary and casual workers, outworkers and
subcontractors.  While benefiting female employment in terms of the supply of
jobs, flexibilization has led to a trade-off between the quality and quantity
of female employment.  The positive aspects of the process must be weighted
against the potential for undermining existing employment protection, social
security provisions, and access to training and for the fragmentation of
career prospects.  Concern has been voiced that women may have been used as
part of deregulation strategy by virtue of their association with flexible

50.  Present data indicate that part-time employment is increasingly a female
phenomenon, and the majority of those employed part-time in almost all the
developed market economies are women.

          Table 9.  Women's share in part-time employment:  selected
                    OECD economies, 1973-1992                       


                                   1979    1983    1990    1991    1992
Austria                            87.8    88.4    89.1    89.7     ..
Belgium                            88.9    84.0    88.6    89.3     ..
Canada                             72.1    71.3    71.0    70.5    70.0
Denmark                            86.9    84.7    75.7    75.5     ..
France                             82.2    84.4    83.6    83.7    83.7
Germany                            91.6    91.9    89.7    89.6     ..
Italy                              61.4    64.8    67.2    65.4    67.9
Japan                              70.1    72.8    70.7    69.9    69.3
United Kingdom                     92.8    89.8    86.2    86.1    85.4
United States                      68.0    66.8    67.6    67.2    66.4

     Source:  OECD, Labour Force Statistics, 1971-1991 (Paris, 1993).

51.  The increase in the part-time employment of women has been a factor
contributing to increased occupational segregation and persisting inequality
in economic rewards, salaries and benefits.  While in some economies the
proportion of women in "male-dominated" occupations has increased slightly as
a result of affirmative action by the Government, employment segregation
continues to persist.  In France, for example, nurses, midwives, beauticians,
secretaries, social assistants, cashiers, switchboard and telephone operators
and receptionists are highly "feminized" occupational categories in which
women constitute more than 90 per cent of employees. 32/

52.  The increase in female labour force participation has not led to women
achieving equal status or bargaining power in the labour market.  As wage
demands are increasingly being tied to increases in productivity, women's
concentration in the services sector has contributed to an overall weakening
of their wage bargaining power since increased productivity is not easily
measured in this sector.  National reports show that women's earnings are
lower than men's in most of the reporting countries.  Women earn between 50
and 90 per cent of men's earnings, but rates vary considerably across
countries.  In 1990, women's wages in non-agricultural industries in Japan
were only 49.6 per cent of men's; and in Germany women earned 73.1 per cent of
men's wages, while in France the figure was 80.8 per cent and in Australia,
90.8 per cent.

             B.  Gender aspects of internal and external migration

53.  Migration, involving as it does millions of people around the world, is
intricately linked with important economic, social, political, cultural and
environmental factors.  As such, it has gender-specific characteristics that
however are often masked by data aggregates established without regard to
gender.  The data collected and published under the heading of "migrants and
dependents" do not permit a full exploration of the extent, causes and
consequences of migration from a gender perspective.  Nevertheless, the
available data, however limited, suggest that both, internal and external
migration may have distinct gender patterns that vary with level of
development, development strategies, type of economic growth and political

                            1.  Internal migration

54.  Internal migration, which exceeds external migration by at least an
order of magnitude, continues to be viewed primarily in terms of rural-urban
flows and the growth of urban areas despite the growing importance of
urban-urban and rural-rural flows.  The world's urban population is estimated
to have grown by about 500 million people over the period 1975-1985 and about
half of this gain has been attributed to net rural-urban migration.  Recent
estimates suggest that 43 per cent of the world's population currently live in
urban areas as compared to only 37 per cent in the 1970s.  Some projections
show that by the year 2005 urban population will reach a staggering 58 per
cent. 33/  In recent years average annual population growth rates in urban
areas, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Asia, have been
high and positive, while average annual growth in rural areas has, with few
exceptions, been low or negative.  This suggests that a significant part of
population growth is due to migration from rural to urban areas.

55.  The gender pattern of rural/urban migration can be derived from the
population sex ratios given in table 10 below.  Although largely insufficient
to support any definite conclusions, these ratios suggest that in low-income
developing economies with a large agricultural sector men predominate among
migrants from rural to urban areas and that in the newly industrialized and
highly urbanized economies of Latin America and East Asia women migrate more
than men.  For example, in Africa, sex ratios in rural areas indicate that
more men migrate to cities than women; and in Latin America they indicate that
more women than men leave their villages for the city.  In Asia, in general,
men tend to predominate in the rural-urban migration flow, while in East Asia
women in the 20-24 age group slightly outnumber men among rural-to-urban
migrants.  In Western Asia, rural and urban sex ratios reflect the
predominance of males among city migrants.

56.  It should be noted that the patterns of rural-to-urban migration
observed in each of these regions are consistent with regional trends in
economic development with respect to trade orientation, the inflow of FDI and
the gender characteristics of employment in export-processing industries.  The
creation of EPZs in the context of export-promotion policies has undoubtedly
contributed to fostering female migration from rural to urban areas in the
first and second generation of the newly industrialized economies of East and
South-East Asia and Latin America.

              Table 10.  Ratio of women to men in total, urban and
                         rural population (1990 round)

                                      Total         Urban        Rural
       Region/age group             population    population   population 
Africa/15-19                          0.997         0.989        1.100
Africa/20-24                          1.002         0.885        1.097
Latin America/15-19                   0.984         1.061        0.873
Latin America/20-24                   1.006         1.089        0.882
Western Europe/15-19                  0.956         0.972        0.913
Western Europe/20-24                  0.956         0.988        0.865
Asia and Pacific/15-19                0.946         0.930        0.963
Asia and Pacific/20-24                0.944         0.909        0.969
East Asia/15-19                       0.938         0.936        0.938
East Asia/20-24                       0.935         0.956        0.864
South-east Asia/15-19                 0.968         0.987        0.968
South-east Asia/20-24                 0.986         1.003        0.982
Eastern Europe/15-19                  0.948         0.939        0.934
Eastern Europe/20-24                  0.952         0.958        0.929

     Source:  WISTAT, 1994.

                            2.  External migration

57.  In the past two decades external (international) migration for economic
or political reasons has involved millions of people.  Census data largely for
the 1970s and 1980s suggest that the number of migrants in the mid-1980s
exceeded 105 million. 33/   Although more recent data on the extent of
external migration are not available, increasing globalization and growing
interdependence in the world economy, the greater mobility of capital,
regional integration and the reconfiguration of nation States in Europe and
the former Soviet Union suggest that external migration may currently involve
significantly more people than it did in the 1980s.

58.  There is a general lack of adequate data on the gender composition of
the external migration flows, and little attention as yet has been paid to
such important issues as their gender-specific impact.  It is therefore
difficult to identify specific ways in which women migrants influence the
process of external migration or are impacted by it.  Clearly, women migrants
may experience a significant change in lifestyle associated with a move to a
society with greater gender equality or considerable hardship, when migrating
as refugees in the context of war, famine or drought.

59.  With their statistics on foreign-born population, national population
censuses provide the most comprehensive data on the extent of female
migration.  Census data for the 1970s and 1980s show that women accounted on
average for slightly more than 50 per cent of the total inflow of migrants
into developed countries.  In developing countries, they represented 45.4 per
cent of the total foreign-born population; and their share in the total number
of people living outside their countries of origin averaged 48.1 per cent.  Of
course, these averages mask significant variations within and between regions.

In the Americas and Europe women accounted for more than half of the
foreign-born population; in Africa and Asia they were less than half of that
category; and they were strongly underrepresented in the countries of Western

60.  In the absence of data for the 1990s it cannot be determined whether the
share of women in international migration flows has changed.  It is
nevertheless clear that women account for about one half of all international
migration.  Gender-disaggregated reporting of data on international migration
and greater attention to its gender-specific consequences are necessary if a
better understanding of the process itself and of the role of women in it is
to be achieved.

             C.  Trends in international trade and their influence on
                 the advancement of women

61.  The relationship between the growth of international trade and
increasing female participation in productive employment hinges on the
employment-creating potential of trade and its influence on the nature and
orientation of national economic development by bringing domestic resources
allocation into line with comparative advantage.  Those developing countries
that opened their economies to international trade experienced a dramatic rise
in the participation of women in industrial employment.

62.  There are at least three reasons why this happened.  First, production
for the external market led to an increase in the demand for labour. 
Secondly, there was a significant expansion in trade flows and a change in
their composition.  Thirdly, as labour-intensive manufactured exports came to
dominate export flows from the developing countries, unit labour cost
minimization became a matter of priority for export-oriented industries.  In
this context, female labour, which is universally cheaper than male labour,
enjoyed a unit labour cost advantage.  The evidence shows that, in countries
with export-oriented production, female labour was systematically preferred
over male labour by transnational corporations and domestic export-oriented

63.  As a result of the expansion of international and intra-industry trade,
women's participation in industrial production, and particularly in light
manufacturing, has increased dramatically.  The global average for women's
participation in the manufacturing labour force stands today at about
30 per cent, which is almost the same as the share of women in the global
labour force. 34/  However, this increase reflects the industrialization
process in developing countries, which typically begins with the production of
labour-intensive items as economies begin to diversify away from primary
production.  In the industrialized and former centrally planned economies,
(except for the Asian economies in transition) women's participation in
industrial production has actually declined.

64.  Trade expansion did not, however, prove to be a zero-sum game in terms
of the aggregate female employment as had been predicted.  Despite competition
from developing countries, female employment continued to rise in the
developed economies.  The strong and sustained upward trend in women's
employment in the non-tradable services sector is thought to have been largely
responsible for this development.  The decline in female industrial employment
was primarily due to the long-term process of structural change in the
composition of gross domestic product (GDP) rather than to the competitive
pressure from the developing countries only.  Some job losses to competition
from developing countries, particularly in the manufacturing industries, were,
however, inevitable, but the bulk of the burden fell most heavily on
low-skilled, overwhelmingly male, labourers.

65.  The trade-driven, export-oriented development strategies followed by
first- and second-generation of newly industrializing countries 35/ came to be
known as "female-led" as much as "export-led" owing to the high share of women
in the export-oriented industries.  The women-manufactured exports of these
countries accounted for most of manufactures exported from South to North.  In
this sense, South/North trade in manufactures was not only labour-intensive
but also "female-labour intensive".  In some countries, particularly in East
and South-east Asia and Latin America, the share of female employment in
export-oriented industries reached as much as 95 per cent in the 1980s. 25/ 
In Mexico, the share of women's employment in the export-processing zones was
77 per cent in the early 1980s.  In the Republic of Korea and Singapore women
accounted for between 68 and 83 per cent of the labour force in textiles and
clothing and between 59 and 90 per cent in electronics.

66.  Although trade liberalization in the developing countries has led to a
steep increase in the employment of women in export-oriented industries,
providing them with better income opportunities, most of the jobs that went to
women were low-wage long-hours production-line jobs or sub-contracting jobs
with no opportunity for the acquisition of new skills and without
wage-bargaining power.  That is to say that while trade expansion led to an
increase in the supply of jobs for women, the quality of those jobs was often
poor and they were insecure, paid only a fraction of male wage for the same
job and lacked social protection. 36/  Thus, the increase in the industrial
employment of women in the context of outward-oriented development was based
on explicitly inferior treatment of female labour.  Female employment in
export-oriented economies is also highly segregated as the proportion of women
employed in "feminized" industries greatly exceeds that in total industrial
employment, suggesting that the female labour force is highly concentrated in
these industries and underrepresented elsewhere.  When the qualitative aspects
of this process are weighted against the quantitative indicators of greater
job availability, the overall assessment of the impact of export-oriented
development is hardly consonant with female advancement.

67.  Recent evidence suggests that the share of women's employment in the
export-oriented industries is declining in the "mature" newly industrializing
countries.  In view of women's relatively poor educational levels - or rather
their less appropriate orientation given modern needs - women in developing
countries are less likely to benefit from export-oriented production than they
were.  It is doubtful that trade expansion lays the ground for any special
long-term benefits for women in developing countries in terms of their
placement in the labour market and of improved access to employment on better
terms in the future.  As countries move along the development spectrum, they
move away from reliance on unskilled labour-intensive manufacturing (as in
Singapore) and unless their skills acquisition keeps pace with the country's
industrial and technology development, women's employment opportunities will
fall away with such growth. 37/

68.  An open trading system is the key to economic growth and prosperity,
which in turn is a sine qua non for political stability and democracy. 
Inasmuch as growth and stability are important factors influencing the
economic advancement of women, free trade is instrumental in achieving this
objective.  There is no doubt that any shrinking of the volume of world trade
would do immense harm to the world economy and to prospects for sustainable
development in the developing countries.  Development experiences (or rather
the lack thereof) in the 1980s showed that the adverse consequences of
economic decline often affect women to a greater extent than men.  On the
other hand, growth based on free trade and principles of comparative advantage
has proved to be greatly beneficial to women.  The resurgence in the mid-1970s
of protectionist pressures and their proliferation in the 1980s under the
strain of recession posed a serious threat to free trade and, by extension, to
women's jobs and economic advancement.

69.  The main achievement of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade
negotiations was that its successful conclusion served to uphold the
principles of free trade.  The Round, which took three years to devise and
seven to complete, was the most ambitious in the history of GATT.  The
agreement under the Uruguay Round comes into effect on 1 January 1995, subject
to ratification.  Although implementation of the major agreements will be
spread over the next 10 years and will not be as thorough and swift as
exporting countries would have liked, significant new market-opening rules
were introduced.  The main provisions of the agreement, and those of utmost
importance to the developing countries, aim at broadening market access,
bringing trade in services and in textiles and clothing under the GATT
regulation, providing a comprehensive framework for the future liberalization
of trade in agriculture products, and curbing the proliferation of non-tariff
trade barriers and unilateral protectionist measures.

70.  The liberalization of trade resulting from the Uruguay Round should lead
to a significant increase in world trade and income, which is expected to
increase by US$ 213-274 billion annually.  It is expected that everybody
stands to gain, particularly in the long run.  The gender-specific dimensions
of these gains (and of the unavoidable short-term losses) are less obvious,
however.  Some of the largest projected increases in trade are in areas of
great importance to developing countries.  Trade in clothing is expected to
increase by 60 per cent and in textiles by 34 per cent.  It should be noted
that these are the sectors that usually lead the industrialization process at
the early stages when a developing country is just beginning to diversify from
primary production.  These are also the sectors where production is
"female-intensive" - i.e., where the share of women in total employment is
high.  The dismantlement of the Multifibre Arrangement (MFA), which controlled
trade in textiles since 1973 should speed up the shift in comparative
advantage and hence in the global division of labour, leading to the take-off
of industrialization process in the least developed countries.  As
industrialization at its early stages is often "female-led", women stand to
benefit in terms of the increase in the availability of productive employment.

71.  In a large number of primary-producing economies, diversification into
the production of manufactured exports is nevertheless going to be a slow
process.  Most of the short- to medium-term gains are likely to accrue to
Asian and Latin American exporters of manufactured goods.  Given changes in
consumer demand, shifts in comparative advantage of established exporters of
manufactured goods and gender-related differences in education, it is unlikely
that women in these economies will continue to hold onto their share of
employment in export-oriented industries.

72.  Primary producers and exporters of tropical products in Africa stand to
benefit least from the liberalization of trade, at least in the short run,
because of the low-income elasticities of their exports and the already low
tariffs on most of them.  Furthermore, women in many African countries are not
involved in the production of export crops either because the gender-related
division of labour does not permit them to switch to the production of
tradable crops or because, as such production becomes profitable, deliberate
efforts are made to turn cash-crop production over to men. 38/  Some of the
developing countries - net importers of food - might see their terms of trade
decline since the prices of their food imports are likely to rise as a
short-term result of the Uruguay Round.  The increase in trade in services is
likely to benefit women, given their high propensity of employment in this

73.  Despite the obvious advantages for women in the liberalization of
international trade, the extent to which they benefit will vary with their
level of education and the nature of their economic environment.  In the
short-run, nationally and internationally, there will be winners and losers. 
Trade-adjustment assistance and skill-building programmes are therefore
necessary to assist male and female workers who are displaced as a result of
greater competition from abroad.  Lately, however, there is some evidence of
unequal access to retraining for women. 25/

               D.  Other factors affecting the implementation of the
                   Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies

74.  The Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies call for equal rights for women
in social, legal and economic domains.  They specifically emphasize the right
to independent and full access to productive resources, and they call for the
greater integration of women into every stage of the development process, for
the reduction of poverty among women, particularly at the times of economic
distress caused by recession or structural adjustment, and for the advancement
of women to positions of economic and political power in business and
government.  They also call for greater recognition in national accounts and
economic statistics of women's paid, unpaid and informal-sector work and for
the facilitation of women's access to productive employment through the
greater availability and the improvement of the conditions of such employment.
In that respect, emphasis was also given to the need to reduce widespread
employment  segregation by encouraging women to work in male-dominated

75.  The World Conference on Human Rights, held at Vienna in 1993, reaffirmed
the importance of human rights in relation to all other aspects of global
life.  It specifically reaffirmed the importance of the equal rights of women
and men, as well as a rights-based focus on issues of peace and development. 
In terms of women's de jure human rights, the provisions of the Vienna
Declaration and Programme of Action reflected the considerable progress in
placing these in the legal structure.  The fact that, by the end of 1994, over
138 States were party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women placed the laws of those countries within the
norms set out in the Convention.  At the same time, the enjoyment of these
rights in terms of women's de facto situation did not improve at the same
rate, as is noted below.

76.  The reliance on democratic means for electing and changing governments,
through competitive elections, that has characterized recent years, has opened
the prospect for women of using the exercise of their political rights to
improve their own status.  At the same time, enjoyment of these rights has
been constrained by the negative effects of previous systems which constitute
a base of inequality upon which reform processes have been built.  After the
shift towards democracy, in the absence of strong and independent national
machinery to raise women's issues into public debate, independent women's
movements have continued to be excluded from the process of economic and
political decision-making.  Women's participation in parliament and at all
levels of economic decision-making have only increased dramatically in a few
countries and in others it has declined.

77.  Where a resurgence of democracy has coincided with the spread of
political instability, women continue to be the majority of the countless
victims of political and ethnic violence.  Much therefore much remains to be
done before the world can claim that the objectives of the Nairobi
Forward-looking Strategies have been achieved.

                        II.  CRITICAL AREAS OF CONCERN

             A.  Persistent and growing burden of poverty on women

78.  Poverty remains a grave concern for the international community and the
issue of its eradication is at the top of the development agenda, particularly
in the context of the World Summit for Social Development.  This time, in
addition to the now customary emphasis on the limitations of economic growth
as far as overall development objectives are concerned, the development debate
tends to focus, inter alia, on distinctly new dimensions of the issue.

79.  It has become more obvious that economic development does not
automatically lead to equitable distribution or redistribution of resources
and income, especially to the poorest sections of population.  It is further
clear that development does not automatically benefit men and women equally. 
Indeed,there is more and more recognition that women are disproportionately
represented among the poor.

80.  It has been explicitly recognized that poverty has a gender dimension. 
Moreover, research in the past 10 years has shown that in order to eradicate
poverty this dimension needs to be addressed in development planning. 
Micro-studies conducted around the globe have shown that there is a strong
correlation between the economic status of women and progress achieved with
respect to poverty alleviation in general.  There is a growing recognition
among development policy makers and practitioners and among international and
bilateral donors that it is crucial to improve the economic status of women
and to target women in poverty explicitly when designing and implementing
anti-poverty policies.  These factors are generally not being considered by
development planners, who are still reluctant to accept a gender perspective
in development planning.

81.  The perception is growing around the globe that poverty is becoming
increasingly feminized.  It is still a matter of debate whether or not this is
a new trend or merely the acknowledgement of a persisting reality and whether
or not the feminization of poverty is a world-wide phenomenon.  What is clear,
however, is that female poverty is a persistent and unevenly distributed
burden that threatens the sustainability of the development process and that
is, in the long run, likely to translate into slower rates of economic growth.

82.  There is more and more evidence that women are neither a burden nor a
cost to development.  On the contrary, they constitute a particularly dynamic
factor in the eradication of poverty.  This realization, however, while
reflected in the academic literature and in the agendas of international
development institutions, has not been given due weight in the design and
implementation of anti-poverty polices.  The explicit targeting of poor women
as the main thrust of anti-poverty policies is necessary if poverty is ever to
be eradicated.

83.  The Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies approached poverty as a
significant - albeit indirect - obstacle to the advancement of women.  As seen
by the Strategies, poverty is a persistent cause of the inequality of women
and an obstacle to women's advancement.  Just as poverty retards the
advancement of women and is an obstacle to equality, it is, along with an
adverse economic situation and the general shortcomings of the development
process, an impediment to the participation of women in development.  However,
the Strategies tackle poverty only indirectly as they focus on the three main
themes of employment, education and health.  The alleviation of female poverty
is therefore also addressed indirectly, through measures to eliminate
inequality and enhance women's participation in development.

84.  As a means of eliminating inequality between women and men, the
Strategies seek to expand women's access to education, training and productive
employment.  They recommend that anti-discrimination employment legislation
and affirmative action, where appropriate, should be implemented to promote
equality of opportunity.  To ensure women's control of the return to their
labour, the Strategies emphasize the need for greater access by women to
productive resources - i.e., credit and land.  Strategies to increase women's
participation in development seek to promote the role of women as a
contribution to society rather than as a welfare cost.  To emphasize the value
of women's participation in development, the Strategies call for women's
productive and reproductive work to be adequately reflected in national
accounts and economic statistics.  The alleviation of poverty is thus
addressed through strategies of restructuring the rules governing employment
and access to productive resources.

85.  A number of things have happened since the adoption of the Strategies
that have changed the order of priority given to the "special areas of
concern" and the weight accorded to the poverty issue among them:

     (a) The emphasis within the development debate has once again shifted
from economic growth as the principal economic objective of society to
human-centred sustainable development, to concerns for the quality of life and
hence to poverty alleviation as the main goal of the development process;

     (b) The relationship between women's advancement and poverty has come to
be analysed increasingly from the perspective of gender rather than that of
cause and effect, focusing on differences in the incidence, causes and
dimensions of poverty as experienced by men and women;

     (c) The process of poverty eradication has slowed down significantly
since the mid-1980s, the absolute number of people living below the poverty
line of US$ 370 increased by 20 per cent over the period 1985-1993 and the
number of people living in absolute poverty on a yearly income of less than
US$ 300 has also increased;

     (d) If in the past poverty was considered a primarily rural phenomenon,
towards the end of the 1980s the analysis had to be broadened to take account
of growing impoverishment among the urban population.

86.  These developments, together with the growing perception of poverty as
an increasingly female phenomenon have brought poverty priority top among the
areas of critical concern for the advancement of women.  Since the mid-1980s
the issue of female poverty has undergone a transformation in terms of its
importance for both the agenda for development and for the advancement of

            Figure III.  Poverty in developing countries, 1985-1993

                        Poverty in developing countries


     Sources:  World Bank, World Development Report, 1990 and 1992
(Washington, D.C.); World Survey on the Role of Women in Development, 1994
(United Nations publication, forthcoming).

                    Factors in the feminization of poverty

87.  While urban poverty also increased considerably during the 1980s,
poverty in the developing countries continues to be concentrated in rural
areas.  In 1993, some 939 million of the 1.2 billion people whose incomes were
estimated as falling below the poverty line were in rural areas. 13/  The fact
that poverty remains a predominantly rural phenomenon in the developing and
least developed countries is merely a reflection of the urbanization pattern
and does not imply that poverty is less of a problem in the cities.  As the
proportion of the urban population in developing countries grew from
22 per cent in 1960 to 37 per cent in 1990, rural poor became urban poor.  If
the rate of urbanization increases as predicted, by the year 2000 the burden
of poverty will be transferred from rural to urban areas.

88.  At the same time, there has not been sufficient growth in most
developing countries to absorb migrants from the countryside into the paid
labour force, leaving many of them impoverished in urban ghettos instead of
rural villages.  An increasing proportion of the population is living in slums
and squatter settlements.  It has been estimated that 1 billion people live in
very low quality housing, and this number may well double by the year 2000. 
Many of the poorest urban residents are women.  In particular, the growing
number of poor households headed by women experiences the greatest threat to
health and safety as a result of urban environmental problems.

89.  Data for 1990 show that the highest poverty rates in terms of absolute
numbers and percentage of population are to be found in sub-Saharan Africa and
South Asia, followed by the Middle East and North Africa.  The poor as a
percentage of total population increased between 1985 and 1990 in sub-Saharan
Africa, Latin America and the Middle East and North Africa, as economies in
these regions struggled with the burdens of adverse internal and external
economic circumstances and debt and structural adjustment, which seem to have
fallen most heavily on the poor.  In Latin America, where poverty was already
widespread, the poor as a percentage of the population has reached extremely
high proportions.  For example, in Ecuador the poor account for 78 per cent of
the population, and in Bolivia 70 per cent of all households and 94 per cent
of households in rural areas are among the poor.

90.  Despite overall economic growth, the social security mechanisms designed
to prevent vulnerable population groups from falling into poverty and the
increase in average income in the developed market economies in the 1980s,
poverty has been on the rise in some of these countries.  In the United States
33.6 million people, some 13 per cent of the population, were estimated to be
living below the poverty line, and in Japan, 25 per cent of all households
were on the verge of destitution.  In the countries of the European Union at
the beginning of the 1990s, 44 million people, 18 per cent of the population,
were estimated to be living in poverty and 10 million in extreme poverty. 39/

91.  Poverty surged in the transition economies of Eastern Europe, the CIS
and the Baltic States as a decline in real wages and the breakdown of social
security systems there led to the rapid impoverishment of what appears to be
the majority of the population, particularly that part of it living in rural
areas and small towns.

          Table 11.  Poverty in developing countries, by region, 1988

                                                           Rural population
                                                          below poverty line
                                              Rural    ----------------------
                                          population as                As
                     Total       Severe    percentage               percentage
                   number of     poverty      total                  of rural
    Region         countries    status a/  population    Millions   population
Asia                  24         14            74          633          31
 Africa               45         36            73          204          60
Near East and
 North Africa         13          2            51           27          26
Latin America
 and the Caribbean    32         14            29           76          61
                    -----       ----          ----        -----        ---- 
     Total           114         66            68          939          36
                     ---         --            --          ---          -- 
Least developed
 countries            42         35            80          253          69

     Source:  IFAD, 1988.

     a/  Severe poverty status is determined on the basis of the integrated
poverty index which is calculated on the basis of the percentage of rural
population below the poverty line, the income-gap ratio and the range of
growth of GNP per capita.

               Table 12.  The poor as a percentage of population,
                          by region, 1985 and 1990

              Region                          1985              1990
Sub-Saharan Africa                            47.6              49.7
East Asia                                     13.2              11.3
South Asia                                    51.8              49.0
Middle East and North Africa                  30.6              33.1
Latin America and the Caribbean               22.4              25.5
All developing countries                      30.5              25.5

     Source:  World Bank, World Development Report, 1990 and 1992 (Washington,
D.C., 1990 and 1992).

               Table 13.  Proportion of the total population and of
                          children living in poverty, 1989-1992

      Country             Social group          1989    1990    1991    1992
Bulgaria                  Population              ..      ..      ..    53.6
Czech Republic            Population             5.7     7.7    19.4    18.2
Hungary                   Population            10.1      ..    21.3      ..
                          Children              14.1      ..    29.1      ..
Poland                    Population            20.5    39.7    38.8    42.5
                          Children              28.0    53.0    54.7    57.6
Romania                   Households            27.3    18.5    28.1    51.1
                          Children              38.1    30.7    42.1    70.1
Russian Federation        Population            27.1    24.5    28.7    77.1
Slovakia                  Households             8.5     8.9    28.2    30.2
                          Children              10.9    11.2    35.6    41.3
Ukraine                   Households            33.6      ..    21.1    35.7

     Source:  "The role of women in the transition processes:  facing a major
challenge" (E/ECE/RW/HLM/5), p. 27.

92.  Recent analyses of poverty in developed and developing countries
emphasize the feminization of poverty as a current trend.  The term itself
appeared in the mid-1980s and was used to describe the growing proportion of
women and of households headed by women in the ranks of the poor during the
recession of the early 1980s and in the context of cut-backs in welfare
programmes.  By the end of the 1980s, some 75 per cent of all poverty in the
United States was to be found among women, particularly women who were single
parents. 40/  A review of the pertinent literature suggests that the number of
families headed by poor women has been rising ever since by about 100,000 a
year.  The greatest incidence of poverty, however, has been found among older
black women. 41/

93.  It would be difficult to assert with certainty whether the same trend is
at work in the other developed market economies and in developing economies. 
Evidence from some of the national reports of the European countries (for
example, Austria) suggests that the feminization of poverty is not confined to
the United States alone.  On the other hand, reports from Finland and other
Nordic countries suggest that the feminization of poverty has not been a
"burning issue" there.  Generous welfare systems in these countries prevent
large-scale female poverty despite high rates of unemployment among women and
a large and growing number of households headed by women.  In the Netherlands,
for example, more than 70 per cent of all single mothers with dependent
children are recipients of benefit payments.  Although the mere fact of the
primary wage earner being a woman is not by itself an indication of household
poverty in these countries, the poverty rate among households headed by women
is significantly higher than among households headed by men.  In Norway, for
example, 13 per cent of all households headed by women live below the poverty
level but only 5 per cent of those headed by men.

94.  The complex dimensions of poverty differences between men and women, the
lack of data demonstrating changes in the ratio of women to men in the ranks
of the poor, and substantial cross-country differences in the gender make-up
of poverty make it difficult to substantiate the thesis that the feminization
of poverty is a process that currently characterizes the gender composition of
poverty in the developed market economies.

     (a) Developed market economies:  the feminization of poverty and of

95.  An explanation of the feminization of poverty, particularly in the
context of developed market economies, may be provided in terms of changing
gender-related patterns of employment.  The feminization of poverty runs
parallel to the other widely discussed process of feminization - that of
labour.  The feminization of labour took place in the context of the spread of
part-time, temporary and other forms of casual or non-standard types of
employment across the developed market countries.  In the majority of
countries, part-time jobs offer little access to training, benefits or
occupational mobility and are largely confined to certain industries and
occupations that are typically low-skilled and low-paid.  The part-time
workers generally earn lower hourly rates than their full-time counterparts. 
The majority of the so-called "working poor" on minimum pay are women,
especially in Northern Europe.  The distinction between so-called poor women
and low-paid women has become blurred.  Sectoral data on part-time employment
and on the sectoral pattern of the growth of female employment suggests that
the majority of those jobs went to women.  In 1991-1992 the share of women in
part-time employment in the OECD economies varied between 66 and
90 per cent. 25/

96.  Other indicators of the feminization of poverty are the growth of
single-parent households headed by women and the long-term decline in
transfers to the poor and in government spending on welfare programmes.  The
feminization of poverty raises complex questions as to the role of the welfare
State in the reduction of poverty.  It has become apparent that the simple
redistribution of income by means of government transfers does not always work
towards a solution to the problem of poverty, let alone the reversal or
prevention of the feminization trend, and that it often leads to the
perpetuation of both.  To some extent the feminization of poverty trend can be
explained in terms of marginal rates of income taxation and high rates of
indirect taxation, minimum-wage polices and income transfers within the social
security system.

     (b) Developing economies:  trends symptomatic of the feminization of

97.  While in the developed market economies the feminization of poverty
presents itself as a growing number of women and women heads-of-household with
dependent children in the ranks of low-paid workers and/or in the ranks of the
long-term unemployed, in the developing countries it is the harshness of the
deprivation experienced by poor women that constitutes the feminization of
poverty.  Poverty itself is widespread.  A number of factors nevertheless
point to the disproportionate effect that poverty is beginning to have on
women.  Poverty among rural women is growing faster than among rural men and
over the past 20 years the number of women in absolute poverty has risen by
about 50 per cent as against some 30 per cent for rural men. 13/

                 Table 14.  Rural women living below the poverty
                            line, by region, 1988

              Region                                  Number of women
Asia                                                         374
Asia (excluding China and India)                             153
Sub-Saharan Africa                                           129
Near East and North Africa                                    18
Latin America and the Caribbean                               43
Least developed countries                                    149

     Source:  The State of World Rural Poverty (New York, New York University
Press, 1992), published in conjunction with IFAD.

98.  Among the factors affecting the increase in the number of women among
the poor are the growing share of households headed by women in the total
number of households; intra-household gender relations and their impact on the
distribution of household income and on the degree of control women have over
their earnings; the impact of technology on female wage labour; and the
persistent lack of access by women to factors of production, including
sometimes the lack of control over the allocation of their own labour.

     (c) Poverty and households headed by women

99.  It is generally agreed that an important interlinkage exists between
gender and poverty on the one hand and the situation of households headed by
women on the other.  An increasing number of surveys and national reports
reveal that this is a growing phenomenon world wide.

100. The World Fertility Survey, conducted in the 1970s, and the Demographic
and Health Survey, conducted in the 1980s, both indicate a pronounced increase
in the percentage of households headed by women during the past decade in many
developing countries.  Ghana's national report comments on "the phenomenal
increase in the proportion of female-headed households in the country".  At
the end of the 1980s, households headed by women in Ghana accounted for
35 per cent of the total.  Most were headed by women who did not receive any
remittances from men for their upkeep, and they were characterized by a high
dependency ratio of 1.8 as against 1.2 for corresponding households headed by
men.  Kenya and Namibia both report high rates, 30 and 40 per cent,
respectively, for households headed by women.  The highest proportion of
households headed by women was registered in Kenya, in Mathare Valley in
Nairobi, where 60-80 per cent of all households have women as heads. 42/  In
Brazil, the proportion increased from 5 per cent in 1960 to 21 per cent in
1988.  Similar increases were reported for Chile, Costa Rica and Colombia,
although the proportion of women among the lowest 20 per cent of income
distribution increased only in Colombia and rural Venezuela. 43/  The national
report of Kenya, however, indicates the highest absolute poverty rates among
households headed by single women, namely 52 per cent as compared to
44.3 per cent for households headed by single men.  The phenomenon of
female-headed households has been on the rise in Bangladesh since the
mid-1980s, attesting to a critical decline in the position of women under
modernization. 44/

101. While it is generally true that households headed by women are among the
most disadvantaged economically, it is also true that such households are a
heterogeneous group in terms of the marital status of their adult members,
number of dependents and the circumstances of their formation.  The most
vulnerable to poverty are the so-called mother-child households where women
are single providers for their dependent children. 42/  Consequently, it is
the growth in the number of these households that is indicative of the
worsening of female poverty and not the increase in female-headed households
in general.  Furthermore, the economic situation of households headed by women
depend on the circumstances of their formation.  A recent study 45/ shows that
widowhood remains the main factor underlying female headship in developing
countries.  The economic situation of such households is quite different from
that of female-headed households formed in the context of abandonment or birth
out of wedlock, although the degree of economic and social support provided to
the former by the extended family and the community is declining with the
erosion of traditional values while the social acceptability of the latter is

102. Nevertheless, the situation with regard to households headed by women is
highly indicative of gender and poverty, particularly when the heterogeneity
of the group is taken into consideration.  The key issue is not headship
per se, but rather what it implies about women's detachment from the economic
support of other adults, particularly adult men.  Recent data show that the
percentage of household heads who are single adult providers is much larger
among women heads of household than among men.  Also, the majority of
female-headed households are households with no adult male.

    Table 15.  Percentage of households headed by women, by country
               and year of most recent data

                             <9                             10-14             
               -------------------------------  ------------------------------
                                Per-                            Per-
                                cent-                           cent-
                                age                             age
Region          Country        female     Year   Country       female     Year
Africa                                           Burkina Faso    9.70     1985
                                                 Niger           9.70     1988
                                                 Sierra Leone   10.80    88/89
                                                 Algeria        11.00     1987
                                                 Tunisia        11.30     1988
                                                 Egypt          12.00     1988
                                                 Guinea         12.70     1983
                                                 Sudan          13.30     1990
                                                 Mali           14.00     1987

Latin America
 and the

Western Europe
 and others

Asia            Pakistan        4.33      1981   Turkey         10.00     1975
                Kuwait          4.77      1985   Philippines    11.30     1990

                Iran                             Vanuatu        11.40     1979
                 (Islamic                        Fiji           12.40     1986
                 Republic                        Syrian Arab   
                 of)            7.31      1976    Republic      12.50     1970
                                                 Indonesia      13.00     1991


                           15-19                             20-24
               -------------------------------- ------------------------------
                                Per-                            Per-
                                cent-                           cent-
                                age                             age
Region          Country        female     Year   Country       female     Year
Africa         Madagascar       15.49     1975   Uganda         20.60     1989
               Ethiopia         15.50     1984   Benin          21.00     1979
               Cote d'Ivoire    15.60     1988   Congo          21.09     1984
               Zaire            16.10     1984   Kenya          22.00     1989
               Zambia           16.20     1992
               Comoros          16.30     1980
               Morocco          17.30     1987
               Djibouti         18.40     1991
               Cameroon         18.50     1987
               Mauritius        18.53     1983
               United Republic
                of Tanzania     18.60    91/92
               Central African
                Republic        18.70     1988
               Liberia          19.10     1986

Latin America  Mexico           15.20     1980   Costa Rica     20.00     1992
 and the       Guatemala        16.90     1989   Brazil         20.10     1989
 Caribbean     Paraguay         17.00     1990   Honduras       20.40    86/87
               Peru             17.30     1991   Chile          21.00     1989
               Argentina        19.17     1980   Venezuela      21.30     1990
                                                 Panama         22.30     1990
                                                 Colombia       22.70     1990
                                                 Uruguay        23.00     1985
                                                 Nicaragua      24.30     1985
                                                 Guyana         24.40     1980

Western         Spain           15.80     1981   Italy          19.94     1981
 Europe         Greece          15.96     1981   Belgium        21.49     1984
 and others     Portugal        17.93     1981   France         21.91     1982
                                                 Luxembourg     22.53     1981
                                                 New Zealand    23.86     1991

Asia            Republic of                      Tonga          19.90     1986
                 Korea          15.70     1990
                Myanmar         15.97     1983
                Solomon Islands 16.20     1986 
                New Caledonia   16.40     1989 
                Thailand        16.45     1980
                Bangladesh      16.83     1981
                Japan           17.00     1990
                Sri Lanka       17.40     1981
                Malaysia        17.70     1980
                Singapore       18.19     1980
                Israel          18.35     1983 

Eastern Europe                                   Hungary        19.91     1980
                                                  (former)      22.74     1980

Region                                  Country           female     Year
Africa                                  Reunion           24.64      1982
                                        Burundi           24.70      1990
                                        Rwanda            25.15      1979
                                        Togo              26.40      1988
                                        Malawi            28.80     70/72
                                        Ghana             32.20      1988
                                        Zimbabwe          32.60      1989
                                        Swaziland         40.30      1986
                                        Botswana          45.90      1988

Latin America and the Caribbean         Dominican
                                         Republic         25.00      1991
                                        Trinidad and
                                         Tobago           25.30      1980
                                        El Salvador       26.60      1985
                                        Cuba              28.20      1981
                                        Haiti             70.00      1993 a/
                                        Jamaica           33.80      1971
                                        Guadeloupe        34.24      1982
                                        Dominica          37.67      1981
                                        St. Lucia         38.84      1980
                                        St. Vincent/
                                         Grenadines       42.37      1980
                                        Barbados          43.93      1980
                                        Grenada           45.25      1981
                                        St. Kitts
                                         and Nevis        45.64      1980
                                        Antigua and
                                         Barbuda          58.50      1991 b/

Western Europe and others               Australia         24.83      1981
                                        Switzerland       25.06      1980
                                         Kingdom          25.24      1981
                                        Canada            25.38      1981
                                        Sweden            26.74      1985
                                         (1990)           30.20      1991
                                        Austria           31.19      1981
                                         States           32.30      1990
                                        Norway            37.64      1980

Asia                                    Viet Nam          31.90      1989

Eastern Europe                          Poland            26.68      1978

     Source:  WISTAT.

     a/   National report of Haiti, 1994.

     b/   National report of Antigua and Barbuda, 1994.

       Table 16.  Change in the percentage of households headed by women

                               Percentage          Percentage       Change in
                                 female,             female,       percentage
Region/country         Year       1970      Year      1980           female

Zambia                 1980       27.75     1992      16.20          -11.55
Sudan                  1973       22.10     1990      13.30           -8.80
Kenya                  1969       29.50     1989      22.00           -7.50
Mali                   1976       15.06     1987      14.00           -1.06
Morocco                1971       16.90     1987      17.30            0.40
Botswana               1981       45.15     1988      45.90            0.75 
Tunisia                1975       10.40     1988      11.30            0.90
Liberia                1974       14.90     1986      19.10            4.20
Burkina Faso           1975        5.10     1985       9.70            4.60
Cameroon               1976       13.75     1987      18.50            4.75
Ghana                  1970       27.40     1988      32.20            4.80

Latin America and the Caribbean
Peru                   1972       22.50     1991      17.30           -5.20
Honduras               1974       21.60    86-87      20.40           -1.20
Paraguay               1982       18.1      1990      17.00           -1.10
Chile                  1982       21.58     1989      21.00           -0.58
Venezuela              1981       21.77     1990      21.30           -0.47
Panama                 1980       21.50     1990      22.30            0.80
Uruguay                1975       21.04     1985      23.00            1.96
Costa Rica             1984       17.55     1992      20.00            2.45
Dominican Republic     1981       21.7      1991      25.00            3.30
El Salvador            1971       21.50     1985      26.60            5.10
Brazil                 1980       14.43     1989      20.10            5.67
Guatemala              1981                 1989      16.90           16.90

Asia and Pacific
New Caledonia          1983       18.49     1989      16.40           -2.09
Indonesia              1980       14.23     1991      13.00           -1.23
Philippines            1970       10.80     1990      11.30            0.50
Republic of Korea      1980       14.66     1990      15.70            1.04
Japan                  1980       15.18     1990      17.00            1.82

     Source:  WISTAT, 1994.

             Table 17.  Households with only one adult member, by sex,
                        and households headed by women with no adult
                        male in household


                                                              Female head of
                                                              household with
                          One female          One male         no adult male
Country                     adult               adult           in household

Sub-Saharan Africa
Botswana                     31                   21                  56
Burundi                      34                   10                  51
Ghana                        31                   18                  57
Kenya                        44                   18                  63
Liberia                      33                   12                  52
Mali                         50                    6                  68
Sudan                        31                    2                  48
Senegal                      16                    4                  36
Zimbabwe                     36                   14                  51

North Africa
Egypt                        32                    1                  48
Morocco                      34                    4                  52
Tunisia                      30                    2                  45

Indonesia                    36                    3                  55
Sri Lanka                    13                    2                  25
Thailand                     20                    3                  40

Latin America/Caribbean
Bolivia                      51                    9                  68
Colombia                     23                    4                  44
Dominican Republic           24                   10                  39
Ecuador                      30                    6                  52
Guatemala                    27                    4                  44
Mexico                       26                    4                  48
Peru                         32                    7                  51
Trinidad and Tobago          23                   14                  36

     Source:  Population Distribution and Migration (United Nations
publication, forthcoming).

103. Poverty, as measured by income and consumption, is particularly severe
among female heads of household who are single providers for their families
and receive no support from a male.  Studies indicate that the income of women
who are heads of household is significantly lower (sometimes only half or
less) than that of male heads of household.  The national survey of Chile, for
example, showed that in 1988 the average income of female heads of household
was only 12,200 pesos while that of males was 24,000.  A study of urban
household income in Jamaica showed that the average monthly income of
households headed by women was 22 per cent less than that of households headed
by men.  Another study showed that in the mid-1980s in the Kingston
metropolitan area 72.6 per cent of female household heads had an income below
J$ 400 a week (equivalent to $18) compared to 39.3 per cent of male household
heads. 46/

104. It has already been noted that the economic status of women is
indicative of the dimensions of general poverty (i.e. poverty that is
non-specific in terms of gender) and correlates closely with the progress made
in its reduction.  Apparently, the same relationship holds at the household
level as well.  Studies have found that in poor households where the women's
share of income and their economic status were relatively high, the children's
needs in terms of nutrition and education were met better and without
discrimination between the sexes.  It is therefore not surprising that, in
households where income is earned and controlled by women the children's
health, nutrition and educational attainment was found to be no worse and
sometimes even better than in male-headed households even though the
households headed by women were poorer. 42/  It is well documented that women
heads of households spend a greater proportion of their income on the
children's well-being than do men heads of households.  This result holds even
when, taking Engel's Law 47/ into account, income is controlled for by
statistical methods.

     (d) Structural adjustment and poverty among women

105. Adverse external economic circumstances and distortive domestic
macro-policies act as a brake on development and consequently on the
advancement of women in the economic and social spheres of life.  But even
when some progress in development is achieved, research shows that it is often
not shared equally by women and men.  Some evidence suggests that men's share
of resources and their control over women's lives increases dramatically with
economic development. 48/  The greater availability of education in the
developing countries has translated into unequal access to it for men and
women, and incentives for the production of export cash-crops have been taken
advantage of almost exclusively by men whereas women have ended up with
responsibility for the production of food for domestic consumption and for
helping with cash-crop production while having little or no control over the
return on their labour.

106. As economies around the world responded to the global recession of the
early 1980s with policies of structural adjustment, the question was
repeatedly raised whether these policies are gender-neutral, gender-blind or
outright gender-biased.  The argument has been justifiably made that policies
of structural adjustment entail a cost that tends to be distributed
disproportionately.  Women come to bear most of it in the form of loss of
income and of control over productive resources, greater pressures in
balancing family responsibilities with income generation, and the absence of
opportunities to take advantage of price-related changes in production
incentives.  There have been reports of the distinctly adverse impact of
structural adjustment on women in Africa.  In Zimbabwe, for example,
government health spending fell by one third in the first three years of
structural adjustment polices.  The number of women dying in childbirth in the
capital, Harare, doubled in the two years after adjustment from 101 in 1989 to
242 in 1991. 49/

107. Concern has been expressed that structural adjustment leads to a
perpetuation of the "vicious circle" of female poverty as younger female
members of households are drawn into productive and reproductive labour at the
expense of school attendance.  In Haiti, for example, where 70 per cent of
households are headed by women, 10 per cent of girls between 5 and 10 and
33 per cent between 10 and 14 were found to be economically active in 1987.  A
similar situation was reported in Jamaica, where a decline in school
attendance left one quarter of all primary school children, many of them
girls, outside the system.

108. Persuasive evidence had been compiled on the adverse effect of
structural adjustment on African women farmers and particularly on poor
households headed by women that produce insufficient food and have no access
to credit and agricultural inputs and therefore suffer most when food prices
go up.  The picture of the consequences of structural adjustment story in
Africa is essentially the same for all countries:  as incentives arise in the
context of structural adjustment for the production of cash-crops and as
Governments stop subsidizing agricultural inputs, women lose in terms of
access to land and credit and consequently in terms of the income accruing to
them and their families.  Studies show that the cash-crops controlled by men
respond well to increased producer prices, while cash- and food-crops produced
by women respond little or not at all.  The question is:  where does the
increase in acreage allocated to men's crops come from?  The answer is:  from
drawing land resources away from women.  Given that statistical analyses
uniformly show that there is a strong and statistically significant positive
relationship between income earned by women and the nutritional status of the
family 42/ while in the case of male income it is only the contributed
proportion of income which is the best explanatory variable 42/ of family
well-being, the impact of the decline in the income accruing to rural African
women on poverty is self-evident.  A number of empirical analyses of the
relationship between these two variables in rural Africa show that subsistence
production is a better predictor of children's nutrition than cash-crop
production. 50/

109. However, it would be incorrect and misleading to associate the
persistence and, in some cases, worsening of female poverty with the policies
of structural adjustment.  These policies were introduced into the economies
that were already suffering from profound internal and external imbalances
which were in themselves detrimental to poverty reduction.  To the extent that
structural adjustment policies helped to restore financial stability, remove
market distortions and improve allocative efficiency they acted as a cure for
economic distress and not as a cause.  As such, these policies were actually
helping towards a long-term and sustainable solution to poverty, including
that of women.  Furthermore, since "counterfactual" 51/ with respect to
women's socio-economic situation cannot be directly observed and no
satisfactory methodology exists for its estimation, it would be difficult to
conclude with certainty that policies of structural adjustment have had an
inevitable negative impact on poor women.

110. What can be stated is that structural adjustment is about change and
change implies costs.  It is well documented that the costs of structural
adjustment, even if only the short-term ones, have been distributed unevenly
with women being hit hardest.  Also, while the policies themselves created
opportunities for the reallocation of resources to more productive sectors of
the economy, women, owing to existing gender biases, the rigidity of their
socially ascribed roles and their limited access to productive resources, were
unable to adequately benefit from this reallocation.  Thus, when analysing the
impact of structural adjustment, it is more appropriate to emphasize the need
to alleviate their cost and in connection with that the need for a clear
understanding of their gender-specific effects.  This, in turn, can be
achieved only if a conscious effort is made by policy makers at the national
and international levels to trace the impact of macro-policies to the gender
level and to capture it in adequate statistical indicators.

111. Another important aspect of the impact of development on poor women
stems from the effect of the introduction of new technology on female wage
labour.  Generally speaking, the impact of new technologies depends on whether
they tend to displace female labour or increase the demand for it; whether
they are labour-using or labour-saving; and whether the increase in the demand
for female labour falls on family labour on wage labour.  Studies of the
impact on female wage labour of the introduction of high-yield varieties
during the Green Revolution, for example, showed that it increased the demand
for it.  Poverty rates among female casual labourers in India continue to
remain high; at the end of the 1980s, 61 per cent were below the poverty line
as compared to 58 per cent of male casual labourers.  According to the
national report of Bangladesh, the introduction of new technologies in food
processing and preservation and in animal husbandry increased the demand for
female wage labour.  Women nevertheless continue to account for the largest
proportion of the poor; the female share of poverty as a percentage of the
labour force is currently 87.7 per cent as compared to 74 per cent for males.

112. According to an ECLAC study, in Latin America and the Caribbean new
technologies and the new ways of organizing work could theoretically have been
very helpful in reducing gender-based segregation, but these possibilities
have not materialized in the region.  Where the integration of large numbers
of female workers into some of the modernized sectors of the economy has
occurred (e.g., in Chile's agro-industry and northern Mexico's electronic
maguila industry), it has generally been precarious and workers in these jobs
usually receive low pay, have temporary contracts, lack social security and
are not allowed to unionize and engage in collective bargaining. 10/

     (e) Control and allocation of resources within the household

113. Intra-household gender relations tend to create a disjunction in the
translation of the improvement in household and female earnings into the
improvement of female and child welfare.  The national report of Bangladesh
shows that women wage earners in poor households have only 1.03 meals to every
2.4 meals for men.  Other studies show that in developing countries household
strategies for coping with crises reveal that the bulk of the hardship falls
on women, since their consumption tends to be reduced first and their assets
are often sold first.  In the face of economic hardship, a desperate measure
is often the abandonment of the household by the male wage earner, leading to
the creation of another female-headed household.  Because of its impact on the
ability of women to exercise control over their own resources and those of the
household, the intra-household gender relationship is an important factor
influencing the feminization of poverty in developing countries and in some
developed and transitional economies. 

114. Intra-household conflict is undoubtedly a factor that is, inter alia,
responsible for the distinct gender dimension of poverty.  It has been
demonstrated at the theoretical and empirical levels that the assumption that
households promote joint welfare maximization is useful for the purpose of
economic modelling.  It is, however, only an assumption, and is also to some
extent an oversimplification and as such causes the model to yield a somewhat
impoverished construction of social reality. 52/  The growing literature on
intra-household distributional inequalities in developed, developing and
transitional economies provides further theoretical and empirical refutation
of the idea of joint welfare maximization.  Research on the issue demonstrates
that the economic process is not the result of the interplay of income and
prices alone but is strongly influenced by social and cultural factors and
factors related to customs and traditions.  The inclusion of these factors in
a model purporting to explain poverty from the gender perspective is crucial,
and otherwise the gender dimension in what at first sight appears to be a
gender-neutral process of economic and social deprivation - i.e.,
impoverishment - goes undetected.  However, to emphasize female poverty solely
in terms of gender conflict would be a dangerous trivialization that would
inevitably result in masking a more general crisis of the years of
gender-blind and at times gender-biased development.

115. Attempts to assess the extent of the feminization of poverty among the
world's poor run into problems of insufficient data.  The accessible evidence
is based on inferences from the trends that underlie the process of
feminization, namely trends in female headship, changes in the pattern and
structure of employment and the socio-cultural factors that continue to
influence gender relations.

               B.  Poverty in terms of different groups of women

116. Women continue to be vulnerable to poverty by virtue of their social
status.  Social stratification can be affected by migrant and refugee status,
age, marital status and ethnicity.  Among the poorest of the poor are migrant
and/or refugee women who have left home either in search of work or as a
result of being uprooted by military conflict and civil strife.

                       1.  Refugees and displaced women

117. Civil wars in countries as varied as Afghanistan, Angola, Armenia,
Azerbaijan, Georgia, Haiti, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, the Sudan and the
former Yugoslavia have denied livelihood to millions of people, destroyed
infrastructure, driven people away from their homes and reduced millions to
destitution and hunger.  At the end of 1994, there were some 23 million
refugees and millions of displaced persons, all victims of civil war and other
forms of armed conflict.  According to the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees, 80 per cent of the refugees and displaced persons are women and
children.  Recent data shows that mothers and children are disproportionately
represented in the refugee population in Africa, Asia and Central America. 
Two thirds of the total refugee population in Somalia were women, while 90 per
cent of the total Ethiopian refugee population in Somalia were women with
young children.  Eighty per cent of Cambodian refugee families along the
Thai-Cambodian border were headed by women, and 68 per cent of the refugee
women in one Thai refugee camp headed households with young dependent
children. 53/

118. Having escaped military conflict and/or persecution, refugee women often
find themselves trapped in poverty.  On resettlement, many suffer isolation
and the lack of employment opportunities except in low-paying, low status
jobs, 53/ and they have little or no chance of improving their situation. 
Despite strenuous efforts to help them, relatively few of these women have
managed to escape poverty in any lasting way.  Most continue to face adverse
conditions owing to the gender bias prevailing in society and economic
stagnation in the receiving countries.  Any new strategy for eliminating
poverty will have to address the special needs of uprooted women not only in
the context of complementary actions directed at specially vulnerable
population groups but also as part of national efforts directed at poverty

                               2.  Elderly women

119. Poverty among elderly women is on the rise, particularly in developing
countries where very few of them have pension rights and where rapid
urbanization has eroded the traditional system of social support, but it is
largely ignored in domestic economic and social policy-making and overlooked
by international development donors.

120. For women in the developed market economies, poverty experienced in the
workplace is often extended to their retirement and affects their
psychological, physical, economic and social well-being.  The retirement
income, especially for working-class women, reflects years of disadvantageous
positioning in the labour market and the pervasive discrimination that women
encounter throughout their lives in schooling, work and housing.  As a
consequence, many women find themselves in poverty after retirement. 54/ 
Rural elderly women appear to be particularly vulnerable.  Recent research
shows that the incidence of poverty among non-metropolitan elderly women in
these economies is higher than among metropolitan elderly women. 55/  Poverty
among elderly women is mediated by factors such as class, ethnicity and race. 
The greatest incidence of poverty in the United States, for example, is found
among older black women. 56/

121. Elderly women account for a large proportion of poor in the economies in
transition.  The national report of Kyrgyzstan, for example, indicates that
elderly women constitute the majority of the poor.

                             3.  Indigenous women

122. Poverty is endemic among indigenous women in Central America, Africa,
New Zealand, Malaysia, Australia, Canada, and the former republics of the
Soviet Union.  Across the world, indigenous women have higher rates of
unemployment, illiteracy, household headship and dependency than
non-indigenous men and women and lack of access to health and social services.

The national report of Kyrgyzstan, for example, emphasizes the lack of
employment opportunities among indigenous women.  The national report of
Canada indicates that the average income of aboriginal women is the lowest in
the country.  In 1991, 60 per cent of aboriginal women in Canada had a total
income of under $10,000.  Twenty-four per cent of indigenous women in
Australia are recipients of social security benefits, a rate twice that found
for other Australian women.

123. About 30 million indigenous men and women live in Latin America where
their problems cannot be dissociated from the whole range of difficulties
experienced by the region.  In all Amerindian cultures, identity and culture
are closely related to land ownership, which was denied them after the
European conquest and which is still the object of a legal battle between
indigenous communities and national authorities.  As these communities are
traditionally categorized as pre-farming self sufficient ethnic groups and
farming ethnic groups, it is clear that the loss of their territories greatly
affected their living conditions.

124. Poverty experienced by the indigenous population prompted many of them
to seek gainful employment in rural and urban areas.  In general, their
integration has been marginal, particularly so in the case of women, who find
work as household employees, itinerant tradespeople or workers in unstable
jobs.  They are all the more vulnerable because they migrate at an earlier age
than men, when they are still unmarried, and also because their illiteracy
rate is higher than that of men (about 3.9 per cent on average). 57/  In
Bolivia, for example, where indigenous people account for 60 per cent of the
population, 98 per cent of monolingual and 73.5 per cent of bilingual
indigenous populations are living in poverty.  In Guatemala, the income of the
65 per cent of indigenous men and women, who account for 41.9 per cent of the
whole population, falls into the deciles of income distribution corresponding
with the lowest share of total national income.

                           4.  Other social factors

125. Female poverty is also an economic consequence of divorce.  Recent data
show that, as a consequence of divorce, women's income drops by 50 per cent
compared to 25 per cent for men and that their poverty rate rises threefold,
while for men, the rate increases only marginally.  Income-to-needs ratios
adjusted for family size show a 40 per cent increase for women following
divorce, but for men the ratio remains essentially the same. 58/

126. In light of these trends and the persistence and/or worsening of poverty
around the world, the lack of a systematic gender approach to poverty
reduction constitutes a threat to the progress of women's advancement.  A
review of the national reports shows that in many countries measures taken to
combat poverty among women are of a somewhat piecemeal nature and lack the
context of a coherent, consistent and gender-sensitive strategy.

                    C.  Women, poverty and the environment

127. The link between women's economic status and environmental problems is
complex, problematic and, occasionally, somewhat tenuous.  It differs in
developed and developing countries, in urban and rural settings, and with the
nature of specific environmental problems.  Moreover, the connection between
environmental problems and women's economic status will vary between the
context of global environmental change and that of local environmental
problems.  The link between the two is also affected by population variables,
in particular rapid population growth and migration, which are both a stimulus
and a response to environmental change.

128. The relationship between women, poverty and the environment has taken
several conceptual forms since the mid-1970s, when interest in the issue first
emerged within the development discourse.  Initially, the relationship between
female poverty and the environment was seen primarily in the context of fuel
shortages and women's responsibilities involving the collection and
consumption of wood.  As poverty reduction was given greater priority in the
development agenda, a new concept, (or rather misconception) emerged, namely,
that the poor, in their struggle to survive, tend to exploit whatever natural
resources they can appropriate, thus causing greater environmental damage.  By
the time women in development became a more or less separate field within
development studies, women were recognized as being among those who suffer
most from environmental degradation because of their extensive involvement in
activities requiring close contact with nature and because of their maternal

129. Urban women in poverty and their dependents may live in shacks and
shanties, hastily developed lodgings, rented rooms, illegal quarters or in
shared accommodations in boarding houses.  In all cases, cramped and
overcrowded quarters increase the risk of transmitting diseases, which is
exacerbated by the lack of adequate sanitation, waste collection and access to
safe water.  Women, who often have to spend more time inside the house than
men, are more exposed to both airborne and water-related diseases as well as
to respiratory infections from the smoke and fumes of cooking and heating
materials.  A recent study of women and environment in developing
countries 59/ shows that women's exposure to indoor air pollution from biomass
fuel combustion often exceeds the WHO peak guideline by as much as 69 to 80
times.  Nearly 92 million women in urban areas of the world are affected by
lack of access to safe drinking water and more than 133 million by lack of
proper sanitation.  Most of these live in Asia in highly polluted
environments.  In Africa, 12 million urban women are estimated to lack access
to safe drinking water.  In Latin America, the figures are comparable to those
for Africa (12 million and 22 million, respectively). 59/  Similarly, 20 per
cent of all urban women in Africa, 19 per cent in Asia and 14 per cent in
Latin America are estimated to be affected by lack of access to sanitation

130. The same study shows that 68 per cent of rural women in Africa, 77 per
cent in Asia and 39 per cent in Latin America are affected by fuelwood
scarcity.  The largest number of women affected by deforestation and fuelwood
scarcity in absolute terms is in Asia where there are some 494 million when
India and China are included and more than 131 million otherwise.  The time
spent by rural women gathering fuelwood in areas of high deforestation ranges
from 2.5 to 5 hours, while in low-deforestation areas women spend an hour or
more per day collecting fuelwood.

131. Rural women in developing countries are also affected by a lack of
access to safe water and as a result, have to spend a significant amount of
time fetching water.  If India and China are excluded, Africa emerges as the
region where the largest number of rural women, (56 per cent of those between
10 and 49 years of age), are affected by water scarcity.  In Asia, more than
60 million women, or some 32 per cent, are affected by water scarcity.  In
Latin America, 46 per cent of all rural women in the same age group are
affected by lack of access to safe water.  Such a high proportion indicates
that, despite the highly urbanized nature of Latin America and the general
abundance of water, there are still a significant number of areas where water
scarcity, at least seasonally, imposes a burden on women in their daily lives
with respect to water procurement.  Women in developing countries may spend as
much as 1.6 hours a day collecting water in the dry season, and 0.63 hours a
day in the wet season.  Unfortunately, no studies have been made of the
relationships between desertification, deforestation and water collection

132. Finally, any links there may be between environment and fertility will
directly involve women.  Two types of effect have been emphasized.  In urban
areas, the degree of exposure to toxic pollutants and other forms of pollution
could affect the health of the mother and the foetus.  In poor rural areas,
the environment may be such that a woman's nutritional level is so low that
her health and that of her child are endangered.  On the other hand, it has
been hypothesized, that as women's workload increases with environmental
degradation, they may perceive the benefits of having children to help them as
larger than they otherwise would. 60/  A number of studies on the cost and
value of children show that inputs by children in peasant agriculture are
substantial. 59/

                    D.  Means of eradicating female poverty

133. Since it is largely true that "what is not counted is usually not
noticed", 61/ appropriate measurements of poverty in general and of female
poverty in particular are important for determining the nature and dimensions
of the phenomenon, and for formulating the anti-poverty policies and
monitoring their implementation.  There are at least three immediately
identifiable problems in measuring female poverty and they concern the choice
of indicators, the level of measurement and the degree of aggregation.

134. The most widely used indicator is income.  Poverty is then identified
with low income, or with low consumption.  The problem with this is that
women's consumption is often not a direct function of their income but is
governed by complex factors of a socio-cultural nature that are not easy to
quantify.  In addition, income accruing to women is systematically
underreported owing to the problems of collecting gender-disaggregated data
and the concentration of women in informal and non-monetary spheres of
economic activity.

135. Moreover, the income of women is often measured not at the individual
level but at that of the household, and this leads to understatement of their
poverty status because resource allocation at the household level is not
really governed by principles of joint welfare maximization.  The calculation
of household per capita income is also often based on its number of adult
consumers rather than on the actual number of its members. 62/

136. Finally, while various dimensions of poverty may be closely correlated,
they are by no means interchangeable with or reducible to each other. 
Consequently, their aggregation into a single poverty index may give a
misleading picture or bring about the loss of gender-specific information on
poverty.  This will have serious implications for the way female poverty is
addressed.  Quantitative analyses also need to be supplemented by qualitative
assessment, or such important but unquantifiable dimensions of poverty as
self-esteem, empowerment, autonomy, participation in decision-making and
security will be overlooked.

137. Analyses of women's poverty suggest that its main causes stem from the
perpetual disadvantage of women in terms of position in the labour market,
access to productive resources, education, and income for the satisfaction of
their basic needs.  They also demonstrate that poor women possess exceptional
resourcefulness, initiative and entrepreneurial spirit and show tenacity and
self-sacrifice in trying to take a long-term view of their adverse economic
situation and in safeguarding their livelihoods.  The agenda for the
eradication of female poverty should therefore begin with the recognition of
women's economic potential and should aim at enhancing women's capabilities. 
Conversely, the agenda for development should begin by targeting women in
poverty, because experience has shown time and again that any approach to
poverty alleviation that leaves the economic status of women unchanged tends
to fall short of its goal.

138. Attempts to provide a conceptual foundation for policies directed at
reducing of female poverty have produced at least three approaches, all aimed
at improving women's capabilities and creating the appropriate environment for
their utilization.  One approach, popular with international development
institutions, emphasizes the role of the market as a sine qua non in creating
income-generating opportunities for women providing that its functioning is
not distorted by interventionist policies.  Another important aspect of this
approach is its recognition of the fact that it is not the rate of economic
growth but rather its nature and its sources that determine whether or not
women will benefit from it or end up being marginalized by it.  Policy
recommendations formulated on the basis of this approach emphasize sound
micro- and macroeconomic policies together with non-distortive public
intervention directed at the provision of social services.

139. A second approach to anti-poverty policy is on the expansion of the
rights of the poor "so that rights of social security can be made to stand as
guarantees of minimal protection and survival". 63/  The strength of this
approach is that it emphasizes that the alleviation of female poverty cannot
rely exclusively on either "the operation of market forces or on some
paternalistic initiative on the part of the State ... or other social
institution". 64/  Markets are not always hostile to women and government
interventions are not always beneficial for the advancement of their economic
status.  In light of this approach, the policy challenge is therefore to
maximize the market's potential by creating income-generating opportunities
for women, to minimize its hostile influences and to provide public assistance
and social services in the least distortive way.

140. A third approach emphasizes "growth with equity" as the main premise in
the formulation of anti-poverty policies and it is also based on the firm
rejection of the "trickle-down" principle of GNP growth.  In its attempt to
reconcile market efficiency with equity as embodied in policy interventions,
this approach is close to that couched in terms of the entitlement and
endowments of the poor, except that the emphasis here is not so much on the
inefficiencies resulting from distorted markets, as on failure to ensure the
just distribution of the fruits of growth.  Anti-poverty policy measures based
on this approach emphasize responsible price and market polices together with
policies for distributing assets and expanding productive employment

141. During the 1980s, policies of poverty reduction reflected the differing
conceptual approaches to their formulation.  In the early 1980s, in the face
of widespread macroeconomic difficulties and debt problems, anti-poverty
policies aimed at restoring growth.  In the late 1980s, they began to
highlight the importance of environmental protection and of targeting female
poverty in the fight against poverty in developing countries.  The
participatory approach directed at women's empowerment and the rejection of
"welfarism" became central to the formulation of policies directed at the
reduction of female poverty.  This approach emphasizes the interdependence of
women's advancement and development and also seeks to modify development
policies so as to transform unequal gender relations and account for their
gender-specific effects.  In other words, it seeks to incorporate gender into
development planning.

142. The policy prescriptions put forward by international development
agencies reflect the conceptual approaches to poverty outlined above.  There
is a significant degree of similarity and overlap between these prescriptions.
All of them pay attention to the role of markets in addressing female poverty,
and all conform to the notion of the importance of well-functioning,
undistorted markets and prices, although the degree of emphasis on the role of
markets varies.  All are concerned with access to productive resources, and
particularly to credit.  Access to education and health services is recognized
by all as important for a solution to female poverty and references to better
employment opportunities are frequently made.

143. The policy recommendations most frequently made are the following:

     (a) Target resources to poor women and facilitate access by women to
credit (group lending schemes) and to new technology (using women extension
workers to reach groups of women farmers);

     (b) Ensure access to education and health services (safe motherhood
programmes, nutrition programmes etc.);

     (c) Change laws where necessary to ensure women's access to land, assets
and employment;

     (d) Provide adequate safety nets;

     (e) Redefine priorities for resource allocation within national budgets
to reflect priority social services;

     (f) Supplement the economic approach to female poverty with the
elimination of social and legal gender inequalities;

     (g) Enable the rural and urban poor to analyse their situation and
express their own priorities through a community participation approach
(participatory rural appraisal, for example).

144. The common difficulty with such recommendations is that they address
what is required without specifying how it is to be achieved.  Also they do
not adequately reflect gender relations and do not provide a comprehensive
strategy for dealing with female poverty.  And finally, they do not adequately
address the role of the State, except in terms of restructuring public

145. At the national level, approaches to female poverty are even less
coherent and lack the context of a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the
problem.  Most of the national reports reviewed so far lack a coherent,
balanced agenda for combating female poverty.  Piecemeal measures, such as the
introduction of a quota system for women in the recruitment policy of the
public sector in Bangladesh or tax breaks for single mothers with children in
the Russian Federation, are reported as measures taken towards the reduction
of poverty among women.  Nowhere is the issue addressed by gender-sensitive
development planning, and due consideration is nowhere given to the role of
Government and the market in the alleviation of female poverty.  In light of
the apparent feminization of poverty in developed, developing and transitional
economies alike, the lack of specific policies that are well balanced in terms
of emphasis is a threat to development and to democracy, because in the long
run the low economic status of women is likely to translate into slower rates
of economic growth.


     1/  Report of the World Conference to Review and Appraise the
Achievements of the United Nations Decade for Women:  Equality, Development
and Peace, Nairobi, 15-26 July 1985 (United Nations publication, Sales No.
E.85.IV.10), chap. I, sect. A.

     2/  See the discussion in Women in the World Economy:  the 1994 World
Survey on the Role of Women in Development.

     3/  F. Nixson, "The third world and the global economy:  recent trends
and future prospects", Developments in Economics:  An Annual Review, vol. 6
(1990), p. 34.

     4/  Since early 1994, the International Monetary Fund has placed greater
emphasis on social sector policies.  Recognizing the important developmental
gains from improving the status and quality of life of women, in the context
of both programmes and the policy dialogue with member Governments the Fund
has underscored the importance of improving women's access to education,
health care, and family planning.  The Fund is exploring, in close
consultation with the Bank, the modalities of providing gender-sensitivity
training for Fund staff, in order to enhance their effectiveness in both the
design of adjustment programmes and the provision of technical assistance.

     5/  World Economic Survey, 1990 (United Nations publication, Sales
No. E.90.II.C.1), p. 3.

     6/  World Economic Survey, 1993 (United Nations publication, Sales
No. E.93.II.C.1), p. 209.

     7/  ECLAC, Panorama social de America Latina y el Caribe, 1993 ed.
(Santiago, 1993).

     8/  _____, "Women in Latin America and the Caribbean in the 1990s: 
diagnostic elements and proposals" (LC/L.836; CRM.6/4).

     9/  _____, "Report of the Regional Conference on the Integration of
Women into the Economic and Social Development of Latin America and the
Caribbean, Mar del Plata, Argentina, 25-29 September 1994" (PLE/2/Rev.1).

     10/ _____, 1994.  "Women and urban employment in Latin America:  the
significance of changes in the 1990s" (DDR/3).  See also M. Pollack,
"Feminization of the informal sector in Latin America and the Caribbean?" 
Mujer y Desarrollo, No. 11 (LC/L.731).

     11/ "Population distribution and migration.  Proceedings of the United
Nations Expert Meeting on Population Distribution and Migration, Santa Cruz,
Bolivia, 18-22 January 1993" (ESA/P/WP.12).

     12/ The Integrated Poverty Index is calculated by combining the head-
count measure of poverty and the income-gap ratio, income distribution below
the poverty line and the annual rate of growth per capital GNP.

     13/ I. Jazairy, M. Alamgir and T. Panuccio, The State of World Rural
Poverty.  An Introduction into its Causes and Consequences (New York, New York
University Press, 1992).

     14/ Civil strife in Algeria, Burundi, Kenya, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra
Leone, Sudan and Zaire and the civil war in Angola reduced or brought to a
halt economic activities, displaced population, destroyed infrastructure and
precluded economic reforms.

     15/ Global Economic Prospects and the Developing Countries (World Bank,
Washington D.C., 1994).

     16/ Report on the World Social Situation, 1993 (United Nations
publication, Sales No. E.93.IV.2), p. 39.

     17/ G. Standing, "Feminization through flexible labour", World
Development, vol. 17, No. 7 (July 1989).

     18/ V. Moghadam, "An overview of global employment and unemployment in a
gender perspective" (UNU/WIDER, 1994).

     19/ The effects of structural adjustment on women are often described in
terms of "added worker effect" and the "discouraged worker effect".  The
"added worker effect" is increase in the supply of female labour in response
to a decline in household income.  The "discouraged worker effect" results
from the decline in employment opportunities.

     20/ World Economic and Social Survey, 1994 (United Nations publication,
Sales No. E.94.II.C.1).

     21/ World Development Report, 1992.  Development and Environment
(New York, Oxford University Press, 1992).

     22/ I. Jazairy, M. Alamgir and T. Panuccio, op. cit., p. 84.

     23/ In Sri Lanka and the Philippines, for example, the rates of
unemployment among women have been higher than among men throughout the period
since the Nairobi Conference.  (See "Review and appraisal of the
implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement
of Women" (E/ESCAP/RUD/SOCWD/1).)

     24/ "Violence against migrant women workers" (A/49/354).

     25/ S. Baden, "The impact of recession and structural adjustment on
women's work in developing countries", paper prepared for the ILO, 1993.

     26/ Current debt-service to export ratio of major recipients of private
capital among developing countries is 0.22 as compared with 0.29 in the period
1982-1987.  Their debt to export ratio in 1990-1992 declined to 1.75 from 1.86
in 1982-1987 (Global Economic Prospects and the Developing Countries ...,
p. 11).

     27/ Economies in transition include the countries of Eastern Europe
(Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania,
Slovakia, Slovenia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), the republics of
the former Soviet Union cooperating within the Commonwealth of Independent
States, and the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

     28/ "Shock therapy" involves a sharp cut of budget deficits,
liberalization of prices and imports, devaluation of exchange rates, interest
rate increases and tight control of money supply growth.

     29/ "The role of women in the transition processes:  facing a major
challenge" (E/ECE/RW/HLM/5).

     30/ J. Musil, "New social contracts:  responses of the State and the
social partners to the challenges of restructuring and privatization", Labour
and Society, vol. 16, No. 4, p. 1.

     31/ L. Paukert, "Women's employment in East-Central European countries
during the period of transition to a market economy system", working paper
prepared for the ILO, 1993.

     32/ "Regional review and appraisal of the Nairobi Forward-looking
Strategies for the Advancement of Women" (E/ECE/RW/HLM/1).

     33/ Population Distribution and Migration (United Nations publication,

     34/ About 854 million women were estimated to be economically active
in 1990, accounting for 32.1 per cent of the global labour force.  See Women
in Manufacturing:  Participation Patterns, Determinants and Trends (Vienna,
UNIDO, 1993).

     35/ Recent trends suggest that Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the
Philippines and China have replaced four original newly industrializing
countries as the engine of growth in the region.

     36/ J. Henshall Momsen, "Attitudes to women factory workers in Malaysia"
in Women and Development in the Third World (London, Routledge, 1991).

     37/ "Productive employment:  women workers in a changing global
environment", ILO contribution to the World Survey on the Role of Women in
Development, 1994 (United Nations publication, forthcoming).

     38/ B. Rogers, The Domestication of Women (London, Tavistock, 1986),
p. 142.

     39/ M. Gaudier, "Poverty, inequality, exclusion:  new approach to theory
and practice", Se'rie Bibliographique, No. 17, Institut international
d'e'tudes sociales (Geneva, 1993), pp. 48-49.

     40/ B. Simon, "The feminization of poverty:  a call for primary
prevention", Journal of Primary Prevention, vol. I, No. 2 (1988), pp. 6-17.

     41/ V. Wilson-Ford, "Poverty among black elderly women", Journal of
Women and Aging, vol. V (1990), pp. 5-20.

     42/ J. Mencher and A. Okongwu, eds.  Where Did All the Men Go? (Boulder,
Colorado, Westview Press, 1993).

     43/ N. Kabeer, "Women in poverty:  a review of concepts and findings",
paper presented to the Seminar on Women in Extreme Poverty:  Integration of
Women's Concerns in National Development Planning, Vienna, 9-12 November 1992.

     44/ S. Alam, "Women and poverty in Bangladesh", Women's Studies
International Forum, vol. 8, No. 4 (1985), pp. 361-371.

     45/ Living Arrangements of Women and Their Children:  A Demographic
Profile (United Nations publication, forthcoming).

     46/ L. Beneria and S. Feldman, eds., Unequal Burden.  Economic Crises,
Persistent Poverty and Women's Work (Boulder, Colorado, Westview Press, 1992).

     47/ The proposition that the proportion of income spent on basic
necessities is inversely related to income is known as Engel's Law.

     48/ Barbara J. Nelson and Najma Chowdhury, eds., Women and Politics
Worldwide (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1994), p. 5.

     49/ IPS Daily Journal, vol. II, No. 120 (1994), p. 4.

     50/ Raie Lesser Blumberg, "Income under female versus male control: 
hypotheses from a theory of gender stratification and data from the third
world", Journal of Family Issues, vol. IX, No. 1 (1988), pp. 51-84.

     51/ "Counterfactual" is defined as the situation that would have taken
place in the absence of a programme.

     52/ N. Kabeer, "Benevolent dictators, maternal altruists and patriarchal
contracts:  gender and household economics" in Reversed Realities,
N. Kabeer, ed. (London, Verso, 1994).

     53/ Cited in P. DeVoe, "The silent majority:  women as refugees", Women
and International Development Annual, vol. IV (1994), p. 35.

     54/ K. Perkins, "Recycling poverty:  from workplace to retirement",
Journal of Women and Aging, vol. V (1993), pp. 5-23.

     55/ D. McLaughlin, "Nonmetropolitan elderly women:  a portrait of
economic vulnerability", Journal of Applied Gerontology, vol. XII, No. 3
(1993), pp. 320-334.

     56/ V. Wilson-Ford, "Poverty among black elderly women", Journal of
Women and Aging, vol. IV, No. 4 (1990), pp. 5-20.

     57/ ECLAC, "Integration of the feminine into Latin America culture:  in
search of a new social paradigm", Mujer y Desarrollo, No. 9 (LC/L.674).

     58/ R. Finnie, "Women, men and the economic consequences of divorce: 
evidence from Canadian longitudinal data", Canadian Review of Sociology and
Anthropology, vol. XXX, No. 2 (1993), pp. 205-241.

     59/ R. Bilsborrow and T. Keshari, "Statistical indicators on women and
environment in developing countries".  Mimeo (Chapel Hill, North Carolina,
Carolina Population Center, 1994).

     60/ M. Nerlove, "Population and environment:  a parable of firewood and
other tales", American Journal of Agricultural Economics, vol. 73, No. 5
(1991), pp. 1,334-1,347; J. Jacobson, "Gender bias:  roadblock to sustainable
development", Worldwatch Paper 110 (Washington, D.C., 1992).

     61/ J. Galbraith, "The economics of the American housewife", Atlantic
Monthly, vol. 232, No. 2 (August), p. 79.

     62/ N. Kabeer, "Women in poverty:  a review of concepts and findings",
paper prepared for the Seminar on Women in Extreme Poverty, Vienna,
9-12 November 1992.

     63/ J. Drexe and A. Sen, Hunger and Public Action (Oxford, Clarendon
Press, 1989), p. 20.

     64/ Ibid., p. 17.




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