New Report on Poverty and Gender in Yemen

Poverty

Poverty, human capital and gender: a comparative study of Yemen and Egypt

[There is a new report by Eldis, an NGO co-ordinated from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in Brighton, United Kingdom, about poverty and gender in Yemen and Egypt.  For a pdf of the report, click here. Here is the summary from the website.]

The objective of this study is to examine the impacts of poverty on children’s health status and educational attainment in Yemen and Egypt. The hypothesis is children from poor families, particularly girls have lower health status, lower educational attainment, and are most likely to engage in child labour. We will test for wealth and gender inequalities in educational attainment and health status of children.

Results relating to poverty, gender and education:

  • with regards to educational attainment, the results show that the poor are consistently worse off than the rich in terms of school enrolment and retention
  • children from poor households are less likely to enrol and more likely to drop out
  • girls from poor households are the most disadvantaged, particularly in Yemen where more than three quarters of girls from poor households have never attended school. Although in Egypt enrolments are higher than in Yemen, yet only half of school age girls from poor households attended school
  • the results suggest that female headship, especially in Yemen improves the likelihood of children’s school enrolment and retention
  • children from rural households are at a significantly higher likelihood of not attending school in both Yemen and Egypt
  • children from urban poor households in Egypt are at a higher risk of dropping out
  • an investigation of the links between poverty, schooling and child labour reveals that child labour is more prevalent among drop outs than among children who never attended school. This may suggest that children from poor households drop out of school for work
  • an active role of the community is critical in the design and implementation of educational policies
  • policies incentives need to go beyond enrolment targets to reduce drop-out rates and child labour
  • policies that empower women are also necessary for poverty reduction and human capital development
  • policies should target women — especially female heads of households and women within poor households — by enhancing their access to resources and program such as literacy programs, credit schemes, training, etc.
  • given the underlying benefits of breast feeding particularly for the poor, campaigns that promote exclusive breast-feeding for the first five months of life for children and prolonged breast feeding with proper supplementation up to the 2nd year of the child’s life are needed
  • Yemen could learn from the positive experience Egypt had with ORT and HMF as low cost technology for treating diarrheal diseases
  • Yemen needs to seriously accelerate efforts to expand immunisation coverage

Findings relating to poverty, gender and child health:

  • children from poor households in Yemen have a higher risk of child morbidity and are less likely to get medical treatment
  • no significant association between poverty and child morbidity is observed for Egypt, however, a negative association between poverty and medical treatment of cough is found. The widespread knowledge of ORT and HMF use among Egyptian mothers may explain the weak association between poverty and treatment of diarrhea
  • significant gender disparities in medical treatment is found in Egypt but not in Yemen
  • although female headship in Yemen is found to be positively associated with educational attainment, it is found to be positively associated with child morbidity and negatively associated with medical treatment
  • children from poor households have a significantly lower likelihood of being immunised and a higher risk of malnutrition than children from rich households in both Yemen and Egypt
  • the level of child immunisation in Yemen is very low – About a quarter of children ages 12 to 23 months and only 12 percent of those from poor households were fully immunised
  • female children are significantly more likely to be underweight in Yemen and stunted in Egypt
  • Children from female headed households have a significantly lower chance of being malnourished in Yemen but not in Egypt
  • females from poor households in both Yemen and Egypt have a significantly lower chance of receiving medical treatment
  • children from Yemeni poor households with ages 6 to 48 months have a significantly elevated risk of contracting diarrhoea and cough as compared to children ages less than 6 months
  • stunting among children from poor households appears to increase with age. This may point to the benefit of exclusive breast feeding at age 0 to 5 months
  • while mother’s education may have a positive impact on immunisation and a negative impact on malnutrition among poor Egyptian households, no significant relationship was found in Yemen
  • children from rural poor households are less likely to be immunised in both countries
  • if poor nutrition does indeed impair educational performance, these high rates of malnutrition (particularly stunting) and child morbidity in the first five years of life imply that a large proportion of children in Yemen and Egypt begin school with a serious learning handicap

Policy implications:

  • genuine national efforts to increase education enrolment in general and for girl in particular are urgently needed in both countries, especially in Yemen
  • priority should be given to children from poor households, particularly girls
  • supply policies should be well-targeted and incentives should be put in place to encourage poor families to send their children to school
  • constraints other than poverty should be identified and addressed
  • an active role of the community is critical in the design and implementation of educational policies
  • policies incentives need to go beyond enrolment targets to reduce drop-out rates and child labour
  • policies that empower women are also necessary for poverty reduction and human capital development
  • policies should target women — especially female heads of households and women within poor households — by enhancing their access to resources and program such as literacy programs, credit schemes, training, etc.
  • given the underlying benefits of breast feeding particularly for the poor, campaigns that promote exclusive breast-feeding for the first five months of life for children and prolonged breast feeding with proper supplementation up to the 2nd year of the child’s life are needed
  • Yemen could learn from the positive experience Egypt had with ORT and HMF as low cost technology for treating diarrheal diseases
  • Yemen needs to seriously accelerate efforts to expand immunisation coverage