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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
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
Eliminate tariff barriers
Deregulation of the economy
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
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
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
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
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
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
Argentine women protesting bank closures in 2001
Women joined barter clubs
Women Picking Garbage Guatemala
Other Garbage Pickers
Women outside Latin America protest Neoliberalism and World Bank