Added: Amethyst Morejon - Date: 30.10.2021 17:40 - Views: 38698 - Clicks: 9085
In July , I huddled closely with Yesenia Paqari not her real name , a mother of two and a respected community leader. We sat on a low wooden bench in the quiet green courtyard behind her modest home, high in the brown Andes mountains of northern Peru. I met Paqari while doing research on a conditional cash transfer program CCT , which have grown tremendously in popularity over the past decade and a half. If she met these conditionalities, she could spend the cash however she saw fit.
Most recipients would spend the cash on basic needs like protein, school supplies, home repairs, mobile phone credit, and medicine. I had called Paqari earlier that morning, hoping for one last visit before I returned home. She was unusually upset when she answered the phone, and so I immediately set out for her house. She was alone, under her Andean eggplant tree, folded over in despair. She told me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Sobbing, she clutched my hand to her breast, asking if I could feel the noxious lump.
The nearest cancer treatment center was an hour bus ride away. Going there would mean leaving her two children behind, and her husband worked as a migrant laborer on the faraway coast; who, she wept, would care for her daughters? And would getting treated for cancer make her ineligible for the income from the cash transfer program? Paqari worked as an unpaid, voluntary caregiver; she said there were no opportunities for paid work in the village. Governments, donors, nonprofits, and social entrepreneurs globally are investing in CCT programs to break cycles of poverty, build human capital, and meet the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs.
By , 67 countries had implemented at least one CCT. The gender implications of this are striking: More low-income women in the global south have access to social assistance than ever before. There is a lot of experimental research showing that conditionalities effectively generate demand for health and education services. Many studies supporting the use of conditionalities focus on a handful of narrow, quantitative metrics relating to service usage e. However, they often overlook metrics related to the quality, accessibility, and availability of those services, and what it costs women—in time, labor, and dignity—to reach them.
I divided my time between Lima, where the CCT is deed and administered, and two rural districts in the northern department of Cajamarca where it is implemented, including the village where Paqari lives. I interviewed high-level government officials, program administrators, school and health clinic staff, local government, social program workers, frontline CCT staff responsible for monitoring and enforcing conditionalities, and women who participate in the CCT program.
The main takeaway of my research, and of other feminist scholars, is that imposing conditionalities in the absence of accessible services produces unintended consequences, inefficiencies, and hidden costs, especially to women. One of the central issues with conditionalities is that they mask poor service quality.
Studies on health and education in Latin America , South Asia , Southeast Asia , and Africa show that governments that use conditionalities often do not adequately invest in improving education or health services. When donors and policymakers impose conditionalities, the burden of finding subpar services falls on the women receiving the cash. For example, in rural areas in Peru and Colombia , pregnant women and mothers with children can walk for hours to reach the nearest health clinic. They may arrive to find them short-staffed or closed altogether.
In order to meet a health conditionality, they have to return again, and again, until the clinic is open and someone can see them. The data only show whether or not services were used, not what it cost to use them. Another major unintended consequence is that conditionalities create opportunities for coercion.
CCT staff, government officials, teachers, principals, and clinicians can and do use the threat of program suspension to get women to do things that the CCT program does not officially require of them. Under threat of suspension from the program, CCT recipients are sometimes required to participate in political parades; paint the program logo on their houses; clean public spaces ; take Zumba exercise classes ; maintain tidy houses; build ecological refrigerators ; produce handicrafts for NGOs; and do whatever other things local authorities tell them to.
Some of these activities may be enjoyable or beneficial, while others are shameful, undignified, and stigmatizing. What happens when opportunities for temporary paid work conflict with conditionalities? In these cases, women like Paqari worried that they would lose the little support that cash transfers provide. N Nearly four years after Paqari sat under her eggplant tree, I found myself back in her courtyard.
On this visit, she looked happy and strong. She had survived. To access that care, she endured hour bus rides between rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, and like others seeking treatment, she queued for hours, in the rain and in the sun, patiently waiting her turn. Paqari also owed her survival to the unpaid caring labor of her sister, who lived in Lima.
Her sister housed her, fed her, and nursed her throughout the course of her treatment. Evidence suggests that mothers will go to great lengths to seek poor or non-existent care, especially if we apply conditionalities. The voices of mothers like Paqari are loud and clear. Fresh storytelling about health, education, and social…. Some rights reserved. Director Ladysmith, a feminist research consultancy: ladysmithcollective.
Gates Cambridge Scholar. Medium is an open platform where million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more. If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. Start a blog. in. Tara Patricia Cookson Follow. Peruvian woman and her child. Canada Says Yes, Then No. Ontario began a three-year "basic income" program - and then suddenly, the government quashed it, leaving thousands of…. Fresh storytelling about health, education, and social impact.
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