Low-income mestiza and Black women's organizations and NGOs in Quito, Ecuador: a micro-level analysis of the impact of neoliberal policy

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Stifter, Rachel Catherine

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This dissertation explores the micro-level impact of relationships between macroeconomic neoliberal policy, globalization, NGOs and organized popular sector mestiza and Black women in Quito, Ecuador by “reading up the ladder of privilege” (Mohanty 2003, 511).! Prior to 1998, women's NGOs and popular sector mestiza organizations were closely related, while organized popular sector Black women became part of Ecuador's growing Black Movement. Severe economic and political crises from 1998 to 2000 led Ecuador to dollarize its economy and forcefully change presidents. These crises greatly increased popular sector mestiza and Black women's economic needs and limited their ability to participate in organizations.! NGOs, also affected by the crises, faced declining international funding and switched from work with popular sector mestiza women's organizations to the development of micro-enterprise courses for popular sector men and women.! The change in NGO programming caused organized popular sector mestiza women to feel abandoned by NGOs and frustrated in their search for resources that would improve their organizations.! Meanwhile, Black women felt NGOs continued to overlook their organizations and their Movement.! Women's frustrations and reactions were closely linked to the macro-level issues of neoliberalism and globalization.! The NGOs and NGO-like institutions I studied in Quito increasingly promoted neoliberal ideology through their programming amid efforts to attract increasingly scarce funding from global donor agencies.! Furthermore, in doing so, NGOs provided individualized, short-term programming and became less likely to support the efforts of popular sector mestiza and Black women's organizations to create collective approaches to the new education and income needs of their members. This project draws on 24 months of participant observation and interviewing with women's organizations and NGOs in Quito, Ecuador. I worked with a number of women in impoverished neighborhoods, as well as with the organizations in which they were involved.! I also interviewed and spent time with representatives of NGOs who had a history of involvement with women's organizations.! Context for the study was also developed through a survey of historical studies concerning organizational development in Quito.! Analysis drew on these three types of sources for the analysis of ongoing relationships between NGOs and women's organizations.