This essay will demonstrate with evidence that women in the United Kingdom (UK) are not treated as full citizens - Sociology Essay Example
This essay will demonstrate with evidence that women in the United Kingdom (UK) are not treated as full citizens. It will be shown that Citizenship is gendered as Lister and other feminist theorists have argued. This will be supported in the essay and by the accompanying scrapbook that citizenship is gendered and women are treated in society at every level as second class citizens. T. H Marshall and his account of citizenship will be looked at and criticised that he does not take into account women.
It will be shown with evidence that Citizenship in theory and practice operates as a force for inclusion and exclusion and that women have been denied their full entitlement through history. It will be demonstrated that that there needs to be a shift in the gender division at all levels, public and private spheres to create the conditions where both men and women can combine work and caring responsibilities. Women and paid employment will be investigated highlighting that women in the workforce have to juggle domestic and paid work and take on the main burden.
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It will also be shown that women who are living in poverty for them means social exclusion. Citizenship suggests membership of a community or state (Deacon 2002). Many theorists would agree that Citizenship involves a balance of rights and responsibilities but the issue lies where that balance should be. T. H. Marshall’s essay on Citizenship and Social Class (1950) defined Citizenship as a ‘status’. He saw Citizenship as three sets of rights as a guarantee of formal equality. He perceived society as a social system of interrelated activities that maintained social behaviour and identity while allowing individual free choice.
The three parts to citizenship are; the civil element, which evolved for the elite in the 18th century; the political element- to enable people to exercise their rights as citizens and the social element. Social rights involve ‘equality of opportunity’ to educational, medical and welfare services. Marshall saw equality of opportunity rather than equality of resources and argued that the equality of status was more important than equality of income. And yet the social rights of the 20th century are the right not to be poor, to have a comparable lifestyle and to live as a civilised human being to the standard of society.
If there is no equality of resources already large groups are excluded from full citizenship, such as women. A United Nations study highlighted ‘no country in the world treats women and men’ equally. Equality is not a full reality, even in the most advanced societies, and despite the fact of being a fundamental value for modern democracies. Lister (1990) argues that the ideal of “social citizenship” involves real democratic participation, with every citizen having the same entitlements and responsibilities.
Lister highlights that poverty means exclusion from the full rights in all three spheres of citizenship. As the Human Development Report (1997) stressed poverty can be the denial opportunities needed for basic development. Lister points out that Citizenship is gendered and is deep rooted in society at all angles, therefore women are not treated as full citizens. Orr highlights in her article (scrapbook p. 22) women are still the majority of low-paid workers and that it is the role that women play in the family is a major factor that shapes the oppression of women in society.
She argues that because of the daily oppression in society, women end up in low-paid jobs because of poor childcare facilities and as women are significantly the main caregiver of their children they have to end up working part time. Sharpe (1984) and Oakley (1976) highlight that although part-time employment has some advantages for women, such as combining work and childcare it is at the cost of women having to juggle domestic labour and paid employment. Two-thirds of women that are economically active with dependent children worked in part-time employment.
Rosie Cox, (scrapbook pages 22, 25, 26) highlights the issues discussed above with childcare and domestic duties in 2006 and yet these studies had been researched in 1984 and 1976, therefore the inequalities still exist in women’s lives surely leave them treated as a second class citizen. The New Earnings Survey in 1990 found that the work women do for paid employment mirrors the unpaid work domestic labour and servicing work that women do inside the home. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) found that the weekly average earnings of the low paid is less than a third of those who are not low paid (i??115 and i??405 respectively).
Judith Orr (scrapbook p22) argues that although women and men’s pay is still unequal, in the boardroom it is still unsatisfactory but for women in poverty it means living on the breadline, from hand to mouth, which has on a knock on effect of being unable to come out of poverty. Poverty is most completely defined as “a human condition, characterized by the sustained or chronic deprivation of resources, capabilities, choices, security and power necessary for the enjoyment of an adequate standard of living and other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights (Oxford University Press.
January 2001). ” Living in poverty limits access to full citizenship and resources (jobs, education, health care, the arts etc. see scrapbook for examples), making it virtually impossible to overcome. Also those living in poverty are more susceptible to exploitation and discrimination (see scrapbook p. 11-14). 70 % of the 1. 2 billion people worldwide living in abject poverty (less than $1 a day), are women. Worldwide women are denied the opportunities needed to improve their social and economic condition.
Women have an extra responsibility of caring duties and the household. These dual conditions contribute to the “feminization of poverty,” and show why there are growing numbers of women and single female-headed families living in poverty. Gender inequality is deep rooted which is why women are not treated as full citizens (www. worldbank. org). In 2003, the Women’s Budget Group (WBG) report identified that the present Government’s focus on child poverty has obscured a gendered dimension to poverty.
Without recognition and analysis of the links between women’s and children’s poverty, the Government will struggle to meet its target to eliminate child poverty. WBG found the risk of poverty is often exacerbated for women because of deficiencies in policy, important too is the failure to implement current policy effectively, efficiently and flexibly. Women are also the head of family poverty. They try to shield their children from poverty’s worst effects, which are both material and psychological. In managing poverty women carry the burden of budgeting inadequate material resources.
There is a clear link between gender and poverty in the UK today, where there are high rates of poverty amongst female headed households where poverty is hidden. Women often deny themselves basics such as food to protect their families from the consequences of poverty (The Women’s National Commission). Women are also more likely to be deprived than men because of resources are not allocated fairly within households (Pahl, 1989). Many women in poverty living in couples can be financially dependent on their male partners.
Ward (1996) found that 50% of the married women in one study were found to be ‘at risk of poverty’ in this sense. A consequence of economic dependency can trap women in violent relationships (see scrapbook p11). Lister (2004) argues that there are many issues associated with women’s role as poverty-managers, such as juggling an inadequate income in a constant struggle to make ends meet and stretching inadequate material resources. They have to draw on personal resources of resilience, resourcefulness and skill in budgeting.
Where services are inaccessible and public transport inadequate the job is made harder (Hamilton and Jenkins, 2000; Turner and Grieco, 2000; Kenyon et al. , 2002). An Oxfam Survey highlighted (www. oxfam/poverty) nearly one in four women in the UK live in poverty. Due to lack of money an estimated 6. 5 million adults do not have essential clothing, such as a warm waterproof coat. An estimated 9. 5 million can’t afford housing that is heated, free from damp, and in a decent state of decoration. According to the Acheson Report there is a definite link between poor health and housing.
The Black Report (1980) endorsed the need for decent housing as fundamental requirement for good health and this was also shown in the Acheson Report into health inequalities produced in 1998. The UK government’s focus in relation to housing & health is centred on five areas which are; improving poor housing, problems with fuel poverty develop safety in the home; raising standards in deprived areas where the inequality of health is at its worst (see scrapbook p. 34).
Cathy Come Home, a film in 1966 highlights poor housing (scrapbook p. ) and yet 40 years on Shelter remarks that in 1966 180,000 homes were built but in 2005 only 20,000 homes built, yet the problem of homelessness is getting worse not better. Marsh and Rowlingson, (2002) conducted a study and found that poor health, linked with poverty, has been found to be detrimental to parents living in Poor housing. The Social Exclusion Unit’s (SEU) report on Mental Health and Social Exclusion highlights that women are more likely than men to experience common mental health problems and longer-term episodes of depression.
Twenty eight per cent of lone parents have common mental health problems’ (2004). Poor health and low morale and the stress of managing poverty, can have a damaging impact on mothers’ ability to seek and find paid work (see scrapbook p17, 18). Managing poverty can damage mothers’ physical and mental health and well-being, especially in instances of debt or domestic violence (scrapbook 11-14). The Acheson report (1998) found there are differences between genders in wider aspects of health, particularly mental and social health, such as the existence of food poverty amongst lone mothers living on state benefits.
Current levels of benefit fall short of the level which independent experts determine to be the modern minimum. In the Health and Lifestyle Survey, caring for young children in poverty, particularly as a lone mother, carries with it an increased risk of poor mental health. The report recommended increasing benefits according to principles which protect and, where possible, improve the standard of living of those who depend on them, and which narrow the gap between their standard of living and average living standards.
Also a need for policies which improve the availability of social housing for the less well off within a framework of environmental improvement, planning and design which takes into account social networks, and access to goods and services. The Government White Paper, Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation (1999) highlighted the social and economic factors, the environment and lifestyle factors impacting on health and emphasised the need to tackle health inequalities. Mothers in couples as well as lone mothers to escape poverty through paid work must be central to the Government’s anti-poverty strategy.
The Child Poverty Review noted that any anti-poverty strategy that relies on paid work as the main route out of poverty has to be an explicitly gendered strategy. A gendered perspective would also recognise the importance of paid work to women’s financial independence and the reduction of their vulnerability to poverty in both the short and longer term. This receives strong support in a recent analysis of employment and child poverty by the Policy Studies Institute.
They argue that for improvement of children’s living standards there needs to be a strengthening of women’s position in the labour market, to be on equal terms with men This essay along with the accompanying scrapbook has demonstrated that Citizenship is gendered and is deep rooted into society. It has highlighted that the majority of the poor are women. T. H. Marshall’s essay on Citizenship and Social Class (1950) defined Citizenship as a ‘status’. Women and paid employment have been investigated highlighting that women in the workforce have to juggle domestic and paid work and take on the main burden.
Lister argued that poverty means exclusion from the full rights in all three spheres of citizenship. The New Earnings Survey in 1990 found that the work women do for paid employment mirrors the unpaid work domestic labour and servicing work that women do inside the home. It has been demonstrated that as well as living as a woman as a second class citizen and living in poverty limits access to resources such as jobs, education, health care, the arts and the scrapbook demonstrated examples, making it virtually impossible to overcome.
Worldwide women are denied the opportunities needed to improve their social and economic condition. These dual conditions contribute to the “feminization of poverty,” and show why there are growing numbers of women and single female-headed families living in poverty. The WBG report identified that the present Government’s focus on child poverty has obscured a gendered dimension to poverty and that without recognition and analysis of the links between women’s and children’s poverty, the Government will be unable to eliminate child poverty.