Women and Poverty: Insights from Adult Education and Pākehā Women in Aotearoa New Zealand
This thesis analyses the issues of women, poverty and education. Education is viewed as a key factor enabling women to move out of poverty. This view is well established in the developing world where education plays a key role to improve life choices and opportunities for women and girls (United Nations Girls' Education Initiative, 2012). However, the influence and impact of education to improve the wellbeing of marginalised women in a developed country requires further exploration. The interconnectedness of gendered poverty and education are explored through the stories of three Pākehā women living in Aotearoa New Zealand. Firstly, in order to understand these local experiences, the developing world literature is assessed to ascertain the global situation of women, poverty and education. Secondly, the relevant literature on women, poverty and education is examined and reflected as it relates to these concerns in Aotearoa New Zealand. Thirdly, the significance of the emergent themes is analysed as the general concerns became personal through the lived realities of three Pākehā women of low socioeconomic status. The thesis is contained within a social constructivism framework and has been influenced by feminist methodologies. Semi structured interviews were conducted to gather knowledge and to gain insights into the reality of a marginalised Pākehā woman engaging with education to improve her self-worth and/or economic opportunities. The research participants echoed the sentiments in the literature that their education outcomes were impacted by their family backgrounds, school experiences and there are societal perceptions concerning marginalised women with limited or no formal education. Adult education was investigated in a local context as this is the domain where women would engage with to change their education status. The arena of education including adult education in Aotearoa New Zealand is dominated by the neoliberal approach to education. Neoliberal policy in adult education does not serve the marginalised members of society nor does an education sector with a bias towards vocational outcomes. A repositioning of the adult education sector within a holistic framework which includes empowerment and improvement in the economic status of marginalised Pākehā women is required.