Expanding Freedoms: Applying Amartya Sen’s theory of “Development as Freedom” to poor urban women in Oaxaca, Mexico

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Kinziger, Claire E.
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In recent years, much attention has been given to the situation of the world’s women, especially to those who live in underdeveloped countries. Issues of inequality, whether they are in the areas of health, education, politics, or a number of other arenas, are being fought throughout the world, including rural and urban areas alike. A thorough examination of women’s condition, as well as a theoretical perspective from which to view women’s lives, is necessary in order to provide development strategies that effectively deal with the women’s lives, freeing them from social injustices, premature mortality, escapable morbidity, and ingrained cultural and social prejudices. People in Oaxaca, especially women and children, are not free from a life of poverty. Of the women who are fifteen and older in Oaxaca, 26.7% are illiterate (Social and demographic statistics). This greatly hampers women’s ability not only to read, but to possess all that is valuable about being literate: leading a more independent life, among other things. Women’s economic situation benefits from an increase in education. Although women’s economic participation has increased from 26 to 45 percent between 1980 and 1997 (The world’s women 2000), this is not without burden; as the primary caretakers of children and the home, women now must balance work, usually of lower status than that of men, and family responsibilities. Although great strides have been made with respect to women’s health in Latin America, death from complications during pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium still remains as one of the five leading causes of death for women between the ages of 15 and forty-four in Latin America (Reproductive rights). Contraceptive use is on the rise, with 65 percent of married women between the ages of 15 and forty-nine using contraceptives (Maternal mortality). In the political arena, women, on the whole are not represented in Mexico. Although the provisional article 22 of the Federal Code requires that all political parties should consider that no more than 70 percent of its members are of one sex (Committee on the eliminatio
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