Economics Personal Statement (Aiynah Hazni)

Aiynah Hazni is currently studying BSc Economics at the University of Warwick. She completed her A-Levels at Epsom College and will be graduating in 2022. This personal statement was part of her successful application to LSE, UCL, King’s College London and University of Warwick for Economics.

The undervaluation of women’s impact on the economy has been a genuine fascination of mine since I stumbled across the work of Dr Victoria Bateman. She suggests more women are needed in economics to achieve gender equality, especially since most policies are built on the assumption of women as secondary earners. Her work inspired my EPQ on gender inequality, specifically the gender pay gap. Living in Malaysia, I observed that women are typically occupationally segregated, occupying menial, low-paying jobs. Goldin (2009) blames micro-level child care penalties leading to macro-level gender inequality. I think this has had a big impact, especially on single mothers, trapping them in poverty due to loss of financial dependency on men which is highly evident in poor countries today. For example, poverty distribution in Angola is heavily gendered, with female-headed households forming the majority of the poorest, potentially due to the prioritisation of education for males. By studying Economics as a whole, I hope to dissect such phenomena in order to empower more women into entering the labour force as the marginal returns from this investment would spur Malaysia towards becoming a developed country.

My submission for a LSESU Economics society essay-writing competition focused on gender inequality and relevant economic policies for combating inequality globally. Increasing female labour participation is an important first step. Consider Rwanda, where a 30% quota for women in parliament has motivated their involvement in national policy-making. Higher involvement of women in politics has begotten other policies aimed at tackling the gender wage gap, including three-month maternity leaves and effective childcare systems which incentivise women to occupy higher paying jobs. My research also highlighted Iceland’s efforts to reduce the gender pay gap; rebalancing childcare responsibilities by adjusting paternity leave policies rather than maternity. I feel this could be adapted to Malaysia’s economic climate, where societal pressures force women into jobs with flexible hours. This policy could end the social stigma surrounding women – that they should stay at home and take care of the children – allowing them to actively involve themselves in the labour force, thus stimulating economic growth. If women reach their full economic potential, according to Guibourg (2015), $12 trillion could be added to the global economy. As a feminist, I hope to advocate equality not only to level the playing field for undervalued and economically oppressed women, but for the victims of unjust economic policies.

I enjoy Development Economics and engaged with Banerjee and Duflo’s ‘Poor Economics’ where persistent poverty traps are considered the consequence of a government’s inability to break down root causes of poverty and solve them one by one. I believe a top down approach is appropriate, such as improving microcredit systems, incentivising local business growth, and developing capital to stimulate further growth thus leading to technological efficiency. With the wealth gained, these businesses could resist ‘lazy thinking’ and make appropriate investments to improve the social mobility of their families, such as better education for their children. At the Malaysian Public Policy Competition, I proposed solutions such as repurposing underutilized buildings or spaces in poor urban areas into learning hubs to bridge the inequality gap between rich and poor urbanites. I believe improving social safety nets for the poor would elevate the education levels amongst poor children, which would result in higher productivity for the country in the long run.

As a scholar of the Central Bank of Malaysia, I am eager to gain a rich and rigorous knowledge of economic theory, and apply my knowledge to policy-making. I want to help improve the lives of many, and see a degree in Economics as my starting point.

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