Women Heading Households: Some More Equal than Others?


Varley, Ann. 1996. “Women Heading Households: Some More Equal than Others?” World Development 24 (3): 505–20.

Author: Ann Varley


This paper explores the validity of the statement that one-third of the world's households are headed by women. It examines the implications of using economic criteria to define household headship and of recent interest in woman-maintained households and concealed woman-headed households. There is a danger of underplaying the diversity of woman-headed households and of marginalizing older women by identifying woman-headed households with single mothers of dependent children. Ultimately, too narrow a focus on particular household types undermines our ability to further a truly gendered analysis of the household in development research and practice.

Topics: Age, Gender, Gender Analysis, Gender Roles, Women, Households

Year: 1996

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