For purposes of this essay, the writer discusses two articles from the Chinese Sociology and Anthropology Journal, namely, Xiaoyun & Qiang et al’s “Gender Inequality and Poverty in Asset Ownership” (2008) and Qiang and Xiaoyun et al’s “Gender Inequality in Rural Education and Poverty” (2008). In the first article, “Gender Inequality and Poverty in Asset Ownership”, Xiaoyun and Qiang discuss the relationship between gender inequality, poverty and asset ownership through an examination of the situation of various families in several Chinese provinces.
Using the household and family as basis and unit of analysis for this article, Xiaoyun and Qiang also focus on the dynamics that these concepts play within the rural setting. The authors of the article conducted extensive fieldwork in several impoverished rural provinces in China, taking interviews, case studies and surveys. The article is broken down into several categories wherein the authors firstly define the terms used and then proceed to analyze them.
On the first level, the authors divide the nature of assets into two, namely, material assets and financial assets. Material assets, according to the article, are “the tools and materials needed for production and livelihood, which mainly include: land, a safe residence, transportation means and equipment, household consumer goods, and sufficient clean drinking water. ” Financial assets, on the other hand, are considered the monetary value and currency that a family has acquired.
In analyzing gender inequality within the context of material asset ownership, the authors of the article firstly focused on the dynamics which play in the issue of land ownership and development of said land. Land was considered either agricultural land or residential land. In the article, it was stated that “Gender inequality is mainly seen within the land-distribution system, ownership of land contracts, decision making about land cultivation and land contracts, and the transfer of contracts.
The authors showed that members of the family with more social capital and power are often at the center of land ownership and control, often making decisions and controlling the land itself and what is to be done with it. It is the same case in the household wherein the ownership of residential land and the accouterments such as furniture, equipment and such belong to those with more social capital and power within the family. The financial assets of a family, as well as the management.
Investment and even borrowing of money is seen to be based on the decisions of a male head of the family. The head of the family is often the person responsible and in control of family assets and property. It is seen in Chinese culture that the male is often the head of the family and is accorded more power and control over family decision-making and dynamics. In an overall analysis and examination of the topic of this article, the authors of the article have seen that the family as a social unit often takes for granted that assets are to be evenly distributed between family members.
However, due to cultural stipulations, gender inequality often plays out in asset ownership and thus the terms of distribution are neglected. Especially common in impoverished households where resources are scarce, gender inequality plays a large role in determining where these scant resources are allocated, and often at the disadvantage of women. The poverty in a household is further aggravated in terms of the individual members of a household. Also, the decision-making of the head of the family determines the utilization of the scant resources and assets.
The impacts of these practices in asset ownership on the social structure and climate within the regions often further oppresses the situation of women and impedes in their development into full participants of society. The second article, “Gender Inequality in Rural Education and Poverty”, deals with the differences between men and women within the context of the literacy level and the type of education being given or even acquired. Once again, the focus of the article is on rural China and the traditional culture that pervades here.
The main findings in the research conducted in this article relate to: “gender discrimination in family expectations regarding education; the establishment of schools; the ratio of male to female students attending school; the ratio of male to female students dropping out of school; and the number of years of education that males and females receive. Since there is no gender-sensitive system for planning the installation of schools and arranging for teachers in China’s impoverished regions, there are real obstacles to girls attending school.
The survey shows that in poor regions, there are high rates of school attendance and retention among boys, but high rates of withdrawal from school among girls. Among adults, the rate of illiteracy is much higher in women than in men, and men’s average number of years of education is much greater than women’s. ” Poverty is related to the situation of gender within the context of education by the limitations it sets upon members of the family.
When resources are scarce and only a few or even one child may be given an education, the males are more often accorded this right than the females. Also, when the resources are further strained, the family often forces girls to withdraw from school and drop out. The impact of these practices on the lives of women in rural China has greatly debilitated the situation for the former. Though women who have achieved little or no education stay at home and work in the fields, these women have been seen to yield lesser crop than those women who achieved more.
Also, as related to poverty, household where women had received little to no education are seen to have lower standards of living as opposed to households where women are able to work in higher positions due to their finished studies. The two articles’ common denominator here is gender inequality. From the two articles, it may be said that gender inequality is found to be a common practice within the family unit in determining the social capital, assets and livelihood of an individual. It may also be said that rural China is still held fast by patriarchy and the favor of men over women.
Due to this social structure, women in rural China, especially those provinces which have little or no economic development has been instituted, women are seen to be shorthanded in possessing any form of asset and in being given opportunities to be able to improve their livelihood. The two articles show that gender inequality is prevalent, systematic and seated deep in rural Chinese culture. The practices of favoring men over women are reflected in the family, and it is within this context that poverty plays a large role as well.