Austerity Policies, Public Expenditure, and Development from a Gender Perspective: What Is the Status of Mexican and Brazilian Women?
This article examines the impact of austerity policies on gender inequality in Mexico and Brazil. More specifically, it seeks to discuss the need to reconcile public expenditure with a development strategy that actually includes a gender perspective. The feminization of poverty is of particular interest, as it is the basis upon which we try to outline the socioeconomic conditions in which Mexican and Brazilian women live with regards to progress, setbacks, and challenges. Thus, a brief explanation of the term austerity is provided with the purpose of reflecting on the limitations and opportunities that public expenditure might have in terms of gender inequality. Then, basic economic statistics concerning the dynamics of economic growth and public expenditure are included and certain key variables revolving around gender gaps in both countries are examined. Finally, we offer a diagnosis of the consequences of poverty on the female population in order to identify the leeway that public expenditure focused on gender should have for the most vulnerable population sector. The purpose is to promote development policies based on greater equality. In summary, as a result of the study, we observe that public expenditure intended at fighting against poverty (female-male) had considerable success in the case of Brazil, but not in the case of Mexico. However, in both countries, the recent deepening of austerity policies could limit the efforts of public expenditure on the feminization of poverty in particular, and on gender inequalities in general.
Key words: Austerity, Public expenditure, Gender, Brazil, Mexico.
JEL: E60, H53, I30, J16.