Handbook on Gender in World Politics
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Handbook on Gender in World Politics

Edited by Jill Steans and Daniela Tepe

The Handbook on Gender in World Politics is an up-to-date, comprehensive, multi-disciplinary compendium of scholarship in gender studies. The text provides an indispensable reference guide for scholars and students interrogating gender issues in international and global contexts. Substantive areas covered include: statecraft, citizenship and the politics of belonging, international law and human rights, media and communications technologies, political economy, development, global governance and transnational visions of politics and solidarities.
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Chapter 49: The international financial institutions, structural adjustment and poverty reduction

Arne Ruckert


The global financial crisis of 2008 has brought the international financial institutions (IFIs), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and their adjustment policies back into the spotlight of global economic governance. Long criticised for the socially harmful impacts of some of their neoliberal policy prescriptions, the IFIs responded in the early 2000s with a major policy overhaul of their lending practices, introducing the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) approach. The PRSP approach was supposed to formally replace structural adjustment by ensuring country ownership and civil society participation in all aspects of policy development and programme implementation. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the IFIs further modified some of their lending programmes to respond to the challenging macro-economic and fiscal environment that it created. This chapter traces these recent policy changes inside the IFIs and discusses their various gender impacts. It argues that structural adjustment has become more poverty-sensitive over time, especially by linking debt relief administered through the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC II) Initiative to the delivery of basic social services to the poor as part of the PRSP process. Nevertheless, poverty reduction and its social agenda, rather than being opposed to the neoliberal vision, have become important addenda to market-enabling reforms, and have therefore not overcome many of the negative gender impacts of previous generations of SAPs.

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