This report draws together data from the Young Lives survey and in-depth interviews to analyse gendered differences between boys and girls, focusing on three key areas: education and aspirations, domestic life and intra-household dynamics, and subjective well-being. It is important to bear in mind, however, that Young Lives is a study of childhood poverty and so does not capture all aspects of children's experiences. What this paper presents, therefore, is a gender analysis of a poverty study, rather than a gender study. Here gender analysis is understood as examining the differences between life chances for boys and girls and how these relate to broader socio-economic processes and inequalities.
Young Lives data reveal a nuanced picture regarding gender and inequalities between boys and girls, with differences not as large as often assumed in advocacy initiatives. Drawing on descriptive and analytical evidence the following five arguments are made.
- The longitudinal nature of the study highlights the ways in which gender dynamics differ when children are at different ages and accumulate over time.
- Both boys and girls can encounter disadvantages relating to their gender, which impacts on their life chances.
- Disaggregating the data by gender and location (urban/rural), gender and household consumption level, and gender and ethnicity/caste suggests that gender is one of several variables (and not the most significant) which impact on children's experiences and life chances.
- Gender inequalities often intersect with other markers of disadvantage, such as belonging to an ethnic minority group, which can compound the extent of the inequality.
- The specific patterning of inequalities varies between the study countries, primarily because of socio-economic factors, as well as between different outcomes in education, time use and subjective well-being within the countries.
The findings suggest that in improving gender equality, policy interventions, such as improvements to education quality or social protection programmes, should target broader structural inequalities between urban and rural environments and between households with different levels of consumption, and, in particular, support the poorest households.