The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty
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The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty

Concepts, Research, Policy

Edited by Sylvia Chant

In the interests of contextualising (and nuancing) the multiple interrelations between gender and poverty, Sylvia Chant has gathered writings on diverse aspects of the subject from a range of disciplinary and professional perspectives, achieving extensive thematic as well as geographical coverage. This benchmark volume presents women’s and men’s experiences of gendered poverty with respect to a vast spectrum of intersecting issues including local to global economic transformations, family, age, ‘race’, migration, assets, paid and unpaid work, health, sexuality, human rights, and conflict and violence.
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Chapter 48: Maternal Mortality in Latin America: A Matter of Gender and Ethnic Equality

Anna Coates


Anna Coates The global maternal mortality ratio (MMR) is around 400 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births but increases to 700 in countries such as Burkina Faso and to as many as 1800 in Niger and Afghanistan (WHO, 2007). At 190 per 100 000 live births the average for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) may appear relatively low. However, there are some sharp contrasts between countries: for example, Haiti has an MMR of 670 while Cuba has an MMR of 22. Furthermore, given that the MMR for developed regions of the world is only 11 and that maternal death is almost completely preventable with simple, well-known medical interventions, maternal death is a clear indicator of inequalities in the region as well as of the wider context of social and economic development and women’s low status. Indeed, while world attention to maternal mortality issues has neglected LAC because of its relatively low national MMRs, LAC is the most unequal region in the world and the structural inequalities (including those related to poverty, gender and ethnicity) that mark extreme differences in capacities and opportunities between different social groups within countries also signify clear differences in vulnerability to maternal death which are not reflected in national figures. For example, while Mexico has a national MMR of 60 (UNICEF, 2008), in some poorer and rural areas, such as the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, it is estimated that the MMR could reach 270. Similarly, in Ecuador, the national MMR in 2003 was...

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