Repository logo

Blacks, Whites, or Grays? Conditional Transfers and Gender Equality in Latin America


Can poverty and gender relations be disentangled? Conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs have spread throughout Latin America and beyond based on the claim that they are an effective social policy tool to combat poverty. While changing gender relations is not among CCTs’ explicit objectives, gender relations are nonetheless shaped by these policies. Unfortunately, the debate concerning how CCTs shape gender relations has treated gender inequality as a one-dimensional matter. In this paper, we seek to overcome this limitation by offering a multidimensional analysis of programs in Chile, Costa Rica, and El Salvador. On the basis of empirical evidence provided, we argue that patriarchal materialism is still at the core of Latin America’s new social policies. At the same time, we recognize the potential for CCTs to transform gender relations should mechanisms allowing childcare facilities and encouraging male participation in domestic labor become an integral part of these programs.