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Women and Neoliberalism-Historical Background. Why called neoliberal? With the return of democracy in Latin America in the 1980s, governments had to deal with a series of economic crises:

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women and neoliberalism historical background
Women and Neoliberalism-Historical Background
  • Why called neoliberal?
  • With the return of democracy in Latin America in the 1980s, governments had to deal with a series of economic crises:
    • Newly elected governments tried to deal with a decline in the economies of Latin America by borrowing more money
    • Economic problems caused by many factors: decreased production and export, the high cost of petroleum as a result of the oil crisis of the 1970s
    • Unemployment increased along with underemployment
    • As Latin American countries asked for more loans, European and US lenders began to ask for structural reforms
structural reforms
Structural Reforms
  • Reduction in State Expenditures
    • Sell off inefficient state owned enterprises--privatization
    • Fire unproductive workers
    • Eliminate subsidies for consumers canasta familiar and end fixed prices
    • Privatize social welfare institutions
  • Trade liberalization
    • Eliminate tariff barriers
    • Reduce tariffs
    • Deregulation of the economy
impact on latin america
Impact on Latin America
  • Increased the percentage of poor people from 35% in 1980 to 41% in 1990
  • Impact varied from country to country, but Chile most affected because both military and later democratic governments had long advocated neo-liberal policies-during 1980s percentage of poor people rose to more than 40%
  • Another way to explain impact—top 10% of the population earned 45% of income while bottom 5% earned 4% of GNP
  • Rich getting richer while poor getting poorer.
  • At the same time the debt is piling up.
impact on women
Impact on women
  • More women have to get into the labor force to support their families especially if men are laid off
  • Older women and widows more often poorer than other groups in Latin American and elsewhere—”feminization of poverty”
  • Women have to devise new economic strategies to feed and clothe the family
  • Women have to deal with emotional costs of neoliberalism such as the rise in marital violence
how to define poverty
How to define poverty
  • Absolute vs. relative poverty
    • Absolute poverty refers to people living without basic things like food and shelter
    • Relative poverty refers to comparisons of groups based on income, access to work, shelter, food, etc.
  • How to measure poverty
    • Often defined in terms of caloric intake as well as access to food, shelter, etc.
  • How do you define minimum levels of survival
    • Based on income needed to provide basic caloric needs
  • What is a poverty line?
    • Economic measurement used by governments to define minimally acceptable standards
    • Implicitly it accepts a percentage of people who fall below this
reproductive vs productive labor
Reproductive vs. Productive Labor
  • If women must leave the home to work, who takes care of the children?
  • Few Latin American states offered family planning—Mexico only began in 1974
  • How do women shop and prepare food and work at the same time?
  • How did the elimination of price controls affect women?
  • Impact on children
social movements and neoliberalism
Social Movements and Neoliberalism
  • Women did not accept the impact of neoliberalism without challenging it
  • Many social movements were responses to neoliberalism: organization of soup kitchens, neighborhood movements, demand for better health care etc.
  • Middle class women also impacted by neoliberalism as their incomes rapidly disappeared—different strategies: Continental feminist meetings as well as UN sponsored meetings dealt with these issues to pressure governments
  • Rise of NGO’s- Non Governmental Organization
new kinds of political demonstrations
New Kinds of Political Demonstrations
  • Women involved in takeovers of government buildings
  • Women marched to protest economic policies
  • Women became picketers (picoteras)-block off major highways to protest unemployment, political corruption, economic policies
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