The Two Gender Challenge

Gender. Lets apply an important college issue to the Two Dollar A Day Challenge.It’s a subject that has been targeted heavily by NGOs, IGOs, and Microfinances alike. Women and men may share the same space in their economic lives, but they often exist in very different worlds. I’m not just talking about staying at home to take care of the family or leaving to go to work; I’m talking about micromanaging a life on less with a different set of priorities. Studies have shown that men are less likely to spend money on the community than are women. Part of this has to do with what is required of women in their daily lives, such as taking care of children. How would this show up in our campus poverty simulation? Does does gender play a role in TDC compared to the reality of the developing world?

Women in the developing world have a lot stacked against them. Repression causes higher mortality and income differentials among other things. Gender gaps are persistent and the World Bank has repeatedly made clear that economic growth is closely tied to the closing of these gaps. Its not because they’re women that makes them contribute to the economy, its because they create a more diverse, interpretive work force. Women are not an extraordinary gender and neither are men, but all of these repressive forces can’t make this distinction. They serve to furnish poverty. Gender gaps are an issue exacerbated by poverty and exacerbating poverty at the same time, as women have to pay for it physically and financially.

The US has little room to boast, seeing as our ratio of female to male earned income is at 60 percent while Madagascar is at 71 percent, Rwanda’s is at 79 percent, and Mozambique is at 90 percent. In terms institutional change the news isn’t much better. We’re ranked 60th in women’s political empowerment below India, China and Uganda. In some respects, we suck at equality no matter the economic class. We know this is an issue at home and abroad, but we find it incredibly difficult to get to the issue even during the TDC.

Campuses in the US are experiencing a paradigm shift about how we see women in our small, connected societies we call colleges. To the average college student, women’s equality is far from being just a courtesy it is an obligation. In spite of petty politics I think that’s a message we can all agree on. It deserves mention in our intense look at poverty. I asked my friend to see if she was spending her money differently than I was. Peanut butter and rice a roni. Nothing different about that; I see both genders doing lump sums, saving money, and grouping together to cover those with no cash for the day. Women and men are more on par here in terms of living priorities than in the developing world. Neither gender seems more likely to spend money on the community than the other. We are not subject to the repressive forces real women in poverty are facing on the daily and this should also serve to humble us during the week.

So, is TDC a good simulation for gender in poverty? No. There are issues for women in poverty being perpetuated by economic depravity and cultural norms. We should be glad we have the sense to at least know to treat women as equals. Now, we should follow through; collegiate or not, impoverished or not.DSC_0341

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