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Gender, State, and Medicine in Highland Ecuador

Gender, State, and Medicine in Highland Ecuador: Modernizing Women, Modernizing the State, 1895-1950

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    Gender, State, and Medicine in Highland Ecuador
    Book Description:

    In 1921 Matilde Hidalgo became the first woman physician to graduate from the Universidad Central in Quito, Ecuador. Hidalgo was also the first woman to vote in a national election and the first to hold public office.Author Kim Clark relates the stories of Matilde Hidalgo and other women who successfully challenged newly instituted Ecuadorian state programs in the wake of the Liberal Revolution of 1895. New laws, while they did not specifically outline women's rights, left loopholes wherein women could contest entry into education systems and certain professions and vote in elections. As Clark demonstrates, many of those who seized these opportunities were unattached women who were socially and economically disenfranchised.Political and social changes during the liberal period drew new groups into the workforce. Women found novel opportunities to pursue professions where they did not compete directly with men. Training women for work meant expanding secular education systems and normal schools. Healthcare initiatives were also introduced that employed and targeted women to reduce infant mortality, eradicate venereal diseases, and regulate prostitution.Many of these state programs attempted to control women's behavior under the guise of morality and honor. Yet highland Ecuadorian women used them to better their lives and to gain professional training, health care, employment, and political rights. As they engaged state programs and used them for their own purposes, these women became modernizers and agents of change, winning freedoms for themselves and future generations.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7805-3
    Subjects: History, Sociology, Health Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. 1 Gendered Experiences and State Formation in Highland Ecuador
    (pp. 1-32)

    This book explores the experiences of Ecuadorian women as both objects and agents of state formation, examining state practices, women’s lives, and gender ideologies in the Ecuadorian highlands in the first half of the twentieth century. The subtitleModernizing Women, Modernizing the Statealludes on the one hand to state projects that attempted to modernize both women’s behavior and the opportunities available to them, and on the other to the fact that some of the women involved were or became modernizers themselves. They seized on new opportunities and pressed the limits of those state projects in ways that perhaps were...

  2. 2 Gender, Class, and State in Child Protection Programs in Quito
    (pp. 33-77)

    Child health and welfare is a classic terrain of gendered social policy.¹ In chronological terms, this was the first arena in which Ecuadorian liberal governments at the turn of the twentieth century developed their capacity to inquire into the conditions of and administer the national population, and they did so first in the country’s principal cities such as Quito. The terrain of child welfare was populated by many different groups, and over those decades shifts can be identified in forms of governance, which became increasingly more technical, targeted, and secular, even as Catholic women continued to participate in these programs...

  3. 3 Governing Sexuality and Disease
    (pp. 78-111)

    While Ecuadorian women’s actions as mothers were of interest and concern to state actors who intervened in child welfare issues, other intimate activities of women were seen to pose a different set of challenges and dangers for state and society. Just as having a child required a man and a woman, so too the spread of venereal disease involved the activities of both sexes. Nonetheless, for social rather than biological reasons, state programs to control venereal disease came to focus on monitoring the sexual health of women in particular. In 1911 an initial attempt to regulate prostitution and venereal disease...

  4. 4 Midwifery, Morality, and the State
    (pp. 112-142)

    In 1929 university-trained midwife Consuelo Rueda Sáenz proposed to the director of the Servicio de Sanidad (Public Health Service) that an outreach program for maternal and infant medical care be established in the poor neighborhoods of Quito. Just as the state employed physicians to serve the poor, she wrote, it should also pay for the services of professional midwives. To ensure that poor women took advantage of such a program, it should be required that all birth certificates be signed by a registered midwife or physician. Rueda explained that her proposal “is aimed at serving those women who cannot, because...

  5. 5 The Transformation of Ecuadorian Nursing
    (pp. 143-183)

    In 1942 the first cohort of Ecuadorian women enrolled in the newly established Escuela Nacional de Enfermeras (ENE, National Nurses School), a boarding school and training facility built adjacent to the Hospital Eugenio Espejo in Quito and operated under the auspices of the Universidad Central.¹ The school was funded by both the Ecuadorian government and international institutions, including substantial financial contributions from the Servicio Cooperativo Interamericano, a branch of the recently founded Institute for Inter-American Affairs within the U.S. State Department. The Servicio funded the construction of the building itself and provided technical staff—in the form of U.S. nurses,...

  6. Conclusion
    (pp. 184-192)

    A central dimension of state formation is what historical sociologist Philip Corrigan has called “the materiality of moral regulation and the moralization of material reality.”¹ This book explores both, examining some of the concrete ways that women’s moral behavior was regulated in a range of different social arenas as well as how women’s efforts to deal with some of the material constraints they faced were perceived and addressed in moral terms. In each chapter state projects are scrutinized. What lent such projects considerable legitimacy was not so much their ability to impose behaviors, but rather the ways that theyenabled...