Girls collecting water in Uganda @Amina Mohamed Photography

Why Marginalization Means More Than Poverty For Females In The Developing World

Any discussion of marginalization in the developing world quickly turns to the topic of poverty – but what does this mean, exactly? Though poverty and marginalization are intertwined, significant differences exist, which help explain why marginalization means more than poverty for females in the developing world.

The marginalization of women in the developing world has many causes, but one thing that these causes have in common is financial deprivation. In this article, I will talk about why marginalization in Africa means more than just poverty and why women often suffer from it more than men do.

Two girls selling shoes in front of the family shop in Uganda @Amina Mohamed Photography

What is Marginalization?

To talk about why marginalization matters, it’s essential to understand what it is. Marginalized groups are those whose social status is defined by their disadvantaged position vis-à-vis other members of society. 

The plight of females in the developing world has been thrust into the public eye recently with documentaries like Half the Sky and awareness campaigns like #WomenNotObjects. In Africa, the marginalization of females can take many forms, from being sold into slavery to losing sexual control over their own bodies through Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). While poverty has traditionally been associated with these issues, it is essential to note that other factors cause this chronic state of underachievement and unhappiness among females in the developing world, particularly in Africa.

Why Are Women Marginalized?

In the developing world, women and girls are often expected to take on men’s work; this means working outside their homes and, in doing so, earning money to feed the family or even supplement their husbands’ income. However, when they do this work, they often make less money than men and spend more time out of the home, meaning they are likely to miss out on caring for their children or doing chores around the house, both of which allow them to be good wives and mothers, which is culturally demanded. 

Furthermore, women are often marginalized because they are viewed as less capable and less important. They are routinely excluded from decision-making processes, and their needs are overlooked. In addition, poor women living in rural areas do not always have access to education or job opportunities. Marginalized women also face violence, sexual assault, and abuse. 

Marginalization is more than just poverty; it’s a systemic form of oppression that affects many aspects of life. For females all over the developing world, marginalization is an everyday reality.

Cultural practices don’t always agree with our expectations.

Traditional practices which marginalize females are deeply rooted in culture, and they don’t always agree with our expectations of how society should be. When this phenomenon intersects with other issues, such as poverty and globalization, it causes devastating effects on women who are already disenfranchised.

For example, one of these practices is female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision. This ritual involves cutting off parts or all of a female’s external genitalia when she is under five years old. Another is arranging girls’ marriage just after puberty, usually to a much older man. By the time she is in her early 20s, she is saddled with too many children to clothe and feed, and her dreams of obtaining an education are long gone.

Girls are often denied access to education because it’s seen as a luxury rather than a necessity. When families don’t have enough money to educate all of their children, they will sadly educate their boys over their girls because girls are needed at home to take care of the household duties or the younger children in the house.

Where did it come from?

The term marginalization is often used interchangeably with poverty, but it is much more. Marginalized populations are those who are either socially or economically marginalized by society. They can be defined as low income, lack of education and health care, lack of access to traditional institutions like banks and governments, etc. There are many examples of marginalized groups around the world. 

The marginalization of females in the developing world starts with education. It’s not that girls are mistreated and denied an education, but that many families see no need for educating their daughters because they won’t be able to find work outside the home. 

For instance, many of the girls we have trained through Cameras For Girls complain about sexual harassment when they apply for jobs in journalism, which is a male-dominated space. They are told to have the job; they either have to pay for the position in cash or sex.

Living in the developed world, that happened to me once, but I had the choice to walk away as other jobs were available.  Sadly, many girls in the developing world are young single mothers with no other options, so they take the job and silently suffer the consequences, hoping it will lead them out of the pit of poverty. Worse they are harshly judged by society for something society caused. It’s a no-win situation.

There are some countries where gender equality is improving; others where it isn’t

The marginalization of females is not just about living in poverty. The lack of access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities also contributes to their marginalized status. In some countries, gender equality is improving; in others, it isn’t. According to UNICEF, less than one-third of girls are enrolled in secondary school in Pakistan and Zimbabwe. In Nigeria, only 10% of women have jobs. In contrast, Rwanda has a female head-of-state, and over 60% of legislators are female.

What impact do young women have on the developing world? An important one, if you look at the statistics. For example, in Sub-Saharan Africa today, almost 60% of its population is under 25, growing by 2% yearly. Nearly half of that age group are women, growing at twice the rate of men. This creates an enormous opportunity in Africa to increase productivity and prosperity by developing its human capital.

What can we do about the Marginalization of Females?

How vital are girls and women to the global economy? So important that, according to UN Women, if female participation in the workforce worldwide were boosted by just one percentage point, it could increase GDP by $28 trillion in 2025. And yet, there’s still much work to be done to help them get there. It takes the combined effort of government, society and the local populace to make it happen.

Many aspects contribute to the marginalization of females, and one of them is sexism. Another aspect is education. Females are often not given as much education as males, making them inferior. Another part of marginalization is healthcare. Women have less access to healthcare services than men because they need them more often. This lack of care often leads to higher mortality rates than men at a younger age.

Lack of access to nutrition is another example of marginalization, which can lead to women having anemia or malnutrition, both contributing factors to death rates among females in Africa and even parts of Asia. The critical thing that needs changing with this problem is equality within society that promotes equal treatment between males and females and looks past gender prejudices.

The plight of females in the developing world has been thrust into the public eye recently with documentaries like Half the Sky and awareness campaigns like #WomenNotObjects. In Africa, the marginalization of females can take many forms, from being sold into slavery to losing sexual control over their own bodies through Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). While poverty has traditionally been associated with these issues, it is essential to note that other factors cause this chronic state of underachievement and unhappiness among females in the developing world, particularly in Africa.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.