Gendered Trajectories Through Education, Work and Parenthood in Peru
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This paper explores young people’s inter-related transitions and pathways through schooling, work and parenthood, with a special focus on the way gender affects trajectories into adulthood among a sample of young people growing up in poverty. The authors report on the outcomes and trajectories of those members of the Older Cohort who participated in Young Lives longitudinal qualitative research between 2007 and 2014, when they were aged between 13 and 20, and we combine this analysis with descriptive survey statistics from the wider Young Lives sample of Older Cohort children: according to Round 4 of the Young Lives survey, at the age of 19, 70 per cent of the young people in the Older Cohort had completed secondary education and 39 per cent of the cohort had started tertiary education. Young people from poorer families or rural areas were less likely to have completed school than their peers, but we find no evidence of gender or ethnic differences in school completion rates; the results from the qualitative analysis show that gender mattered in young people’s trajectories when families had limited economic resources, in both rural and urban scenarios. In addition, the study shows that role of the family seems to be very important in decisions about young people’s futures; with regard to education trajectories, although gender differences were not observed during primary and secondary school, this study found that low-income families tended to prioritise boys’ education at post-secondary level. Moreover, results show that in rural areas young people who wished to pursue post-secondary education might also decide to work; however, these temporary jobs exposed them to risky situations and maltreatment, especially girls; in rural areas, social norms regarding gender are important to an understanding of why work is the most common trajectory among young men in early adulthood. Working is a positive thing for young men because it positions them as providers. In urban areas young men’s involvement in work and families’ expectations of males are different; parents try to postpone their offspring’s access to money, in order to keep them away from drugs, alcohol and gangs that might lead them astray; the results about the transition into parenthood show that there was a clear difference between the experiences of boys who became parents at a young age or were waiting to have a child and those of girls. The situation was worse for girls. Boys were more protected by their parents, who supported them emotionally and financially in the experience of becoming a parent and starting a new family.