Gendered austerity and embodied debt in Ecuador: channels through which women absorb and resist the shocks of public budget cuts
This paper examines the dynamics and implications of gendered austerity in Ecuador in the context of the fiscal consolidation framework recommended in the country's International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan programme, through three channels. First, that of the public health sector and the experiences of women public health workers. Second, that of unpaid care work and significant augmentations in home-based health care of family members as well as education support. And third, increases in consumer debt incurred by women through extractive short-term lenders. To illustrate the lived experiences of women, interviews were conducted with a leader of a nurses' union in the capital city of Quito and results collected from external published focus group surveys with women engaged in unpaid and paid care work as well as in community savings organizations. Two key theoretical frameworks are employed within feminist political economy. First, the social provisioning approach, where economic activity encompasses unpaid and paid work, human well-being is the yardstick of economic success, and power inequities, agency and economic outcomes are shaped by gender.
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