Women’s economic empowerment: children benefit from income mothers

The core business of Women on Wings is creating jobs for women in rural India. A job means an income for women. We often state that research shows that women spend their money on their families: they will send their children to (a better) school, giving them a chance of a better future. But what kind of research do we refer to and what does the research show us? We took a closer look at reports of highly regarded institutions, including the World Bank, FAO, OECD and the UN, that focus on the impact of income of women on children’s health and education.

Income for women directly benefits family
The reports emphasize that empowering women is a well-proven strategy for improving children’s well being. In fact, rural women’s economic empowerment can help reduce the number of underweight children. Putting more income in the hands of women, translates into improved child nutrition, health and education. Schooling is important, especially for girls: an extra year of primary school increases girls’ eventual wages by 10-20 percent, encourages girls to marry later and have fewer children, and makes them less likely to experience violence.
Employment for women does not only have a positive impact on the household income but also on the influence women have on economic decisions. When women work, they gain greater power in decision-making regarding the use of household resource.
All reports mention that it is essential that women have control over the household money. When women control additional income, they spend more of it than men do on food, health, clothing and education for their children. This has positive implications for immediate well-being as well as raising the level of human capital and economic growth through improved health, nutrition and education outcomes. It is the way to break the cycle of poverty.

Work in or near home important
However, there is one important prerequisite. Mothers who work may lack the time to adequately breastfeed or prepare nutritious meals for their young children. Working women may rely on other members of the household to provide childcare, but the quality of care provided by these substitutes, especially if they are older children, may be poor. It is important that improvements in labor market opportunities for women be accompanied by measures that address the increase in the need for childcare. Work in or near the home is more childcare compatible than work outside or far from the home. This is an important reason why Women on Wings aims to create work for rural women that is based at their homes, or near their homes in the villages.

Martha van Dijk

In the link you can find an overview of the literature and reports that enabled us to write this blog