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Chronic poverty, girls and social institutions

Dhana Wadugodapitiya



This policy brief is drawn from the CPRC report, Stemming girls’ chronic poverty: Catalysing development change by building just social institutions

Key points:

• Policy interventions to tackle chronic poverty should take account of the gendered and generational experiences of chronic poverty.

• Childhood, adolescence and early adulthood are critical in determining the life-course potential of girls and young women, and shape the life-chances of their children. Promoting gender equality and empowerment across the lifecycle makes sound economic and development sense, and is key to alleviating chronic poverty.

• Social institutions – the collection of formal and informal laws, norms and practices that affect human capabilities and agency – significantly impact on developmental outcomes.

• Promoting progressive social change requires reforming those discriminatory social institutions which harm girls and young women, inhibit agency, and prevent the realisation of their capabilities.

• In the lead up to 2015, ‘culture’ and ‘the social’ must become much more visible in debates on the MDGs and post-MDG frameworks. Culture and societal norms and practices must be taken seriously to break the poverty traps that girls and young women face across the life-course and inter-generationally.

• Different combinations of context-specific policies and programmes, involving an array of actors, which address both the immediate and longer-term causes and consequences of gender discrimination, are necessary.

Publication Type(s)

CPRC Policy Brief


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