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Understanding Women's Roles in Eradicating Poverty

The idea that UBI (universal basic income) can/should be used as a development tool is both profound and dumbfounding. Shouldn’t UBI just exist? Why doesn’t it exist for all people? Does the average American understand this fact?

The income gap that exists between men and women here and abroad is a troubling reality that we face, yet it is so engrained in some cultures that breaking down those barriers mean more than just equal work, equal pay. Societal norms, cultural traditions, and generations of “this is the way things work” can become an emotional catharsis, stirring up deep seeded emotions. In focusing on UBI for women in particular, there have been recent studies that suggest this might be a “way to both empower women and reduce hunger in the region” (Nair, 2017). I chose to reflect on my own experiences, living in SE Asia, and how this discussion impacts women in this region. In my research I found that “women in these countries fare well enough…in terms of literacy, employment, political participation, and the right to organize. But this has not translated into greater gender equality” (Nair, 2017). How can this be? Everything is right there; these women are on the cusp of a transformative revolution. What’s stopping them?

Gender stereotypes can attribute to some of the impediment. These stereotypes are barriers that can be difficult to break down because they are the cultural identity of a people. So where to begin? This article states that women should become “agents of change” where they could take part in the earnings and financial decisions for the family. Look at this example: “If women were provided with sufficient income to feed their families, it would translate into better nutrition, health and general well-being for children others entrusted in their care, and by extension, their communities” (Nair, 2017). Nutrition and general health and well-being are some of the basic struggles faced by the world’s poorest. If we can improve in this aspect of society, it can have monumental impacts. To become agents of change, education is key: educating the community as a whole about the positive impacts of increased earnings for women and education for women in school or in job training skills. Cultural sensitivity is a key element of this educational process. It is pertinent to understand that changes in culture and traditions can be a slow process and a delicate situation to navigate for communities in the poorest areas of the world.

As I reflect on how I can help to effect this change, I focus on educating others and aligning myself with organizations who have similar goals. A trained Political Scientist, it is engrained in me to conduct thorough research, find out why something is the way it is by studying a society’s history. A graduate student of Education, with an emphasis on ESOL, which constantly connects me with marginalized people around the world, I have learned the processes necessary to create change: it takes a village. Each one of us is not an island and we must choose to go beyond an initial contact, support a student by connecting with their parents, visit their home, research their culture; effect change in a community by digging deeper, understanding their cultural traditions and values. This kind of mentality forces me to find solutions and, like in the children’s book I read with conviction to my students, “questions are tricky and some hold on tight, and this one kept [me] awake through the night” (Beaty, 2013).

References

Beaty, Andrea. (2013). Rosie Revere, Engineer. Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Nair, Tamara. (2017). Free Money For Women Could Be a Solution to Poverty in Southeast Asia. The

Conversation. www.businessinsider.com/basic-income-southeast-asia-for-women-2017-7.

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