Date of Award

Spring 2002

Document Type



Political Science & International Relations

First Advisor

Erik Pratt

Second Advisor

Bethalee Wilson

Third Advisor

Phillip Wittman


The poverty and deprivation existing today in the developing world makes it difficult for women to prosper economically. Structural Adjustment Programs are policies created by the International Monetary Fund to help countries repay their foreign debt by improving the overall prosperity of the country, and in so doing it is assumed the economic prosperity of women will increase as well. The theory being that as the wealth of the country increases it will automatically be translated into greater wealth for its citizens, including women. However, critics claim that SAPs have failed to help women, because of the cultural biases within these developing countries. They maintain that although SAPs are not the cause of these gender inequalities, by refusing to acknowledge, and making allowances for, these inequalities economic policies have not only failed to better the economic position of most women in the developing world, but have, in some cases, even acted to reinforce the inequities and intensify women’s burdens. Often these cultural biases show up as a result of SAP’s focus on economic liberalization and the market economy to the exclusion of domestic work, a realm predominately occupied by women. Although this has been a popular topic of debate in recent years the question remains, is there, in fact, empirical evidence to support the claim?