There is still a long way to go in the fight for more women to rise to positions of power and influence, but these six economists are some of the women who have already left their mark in Latin America.
In December 2019, the economist and university professor Azucena Arbeleche became the first woman Minister of Economy and Finance of Uruguay.
She did not imagine that she would have to navigate a global pandemic with deep havoc.
A country of 3.4 million people, Uruguay already stood out in the first places in the region in indicators such as per capita income, as well as for having "one of the most comprehensive social protection systems," according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). ).
In order not to give up the ground gained, Arbeleche implemented a series of measures, among them the extension of unemployment and health insurance.
Also, the Government created the Coronavirus Fund, through which they allocated resources to attend to the emergency in a transparent manner.
The fund was partially financed by temporary reductions in the salaries of the president, ministers and civil servants with the highest salaries.
A member of a center-right party, Arbeleche defines herself as a Keynesian.
In 2020, she said in a radio interview: “What kind of sums up my feelings and where I stand is what Keynes says.
The problem of humanity is to combine three elements: economic efficiency, social justice and individual freedom.
Mercedes D'Alessandro left her mark in her native Argentina by being the first director of Economy, Equality and Gender, part of the Economy portfolio in the national government.
In the two years of her management, from January 2020 to March 2022, the doctor in Economics assured that women reached record levels of activity and employment.
During the pandemic, D'Alessandro collaborated with her peers in the Administration to design the Emergency Family Income.
In addition, she proposed a measurement of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that considers the contribution of care - 15.9% in Argentina - and was involved in the design of the "first budget with a gender perspective", as reported in her announcement of departure from the Ministry.
“Today the Ministry of the Economy of Argentina is proudly feminist,” she declared.
D'Alessandro was part of the team that negotiated an agreement with the IMF, focusing on issues such as social spending, retirement and gender.
She also created a group with more than 250 officials called Mujeres Gobernando, where the gender agenda is promoted in all state agencies (and which, despite her departure from her government, continues to function).
In 2021, Time magazine included her in its list of the hundred most influential people in the world.
Before her time as a civil servant, D'Alessandro was already influencing economic thought in her country and throughout Latin America.
From her Feminist Economy.
Women, work and love
, published in 2016, is a must-read for feminists in the region, it has had five editions and one paperback.
Ana Maria Ibanez
The violence in Colombia in the eighties and nineties unleashed a phenomenon of forced displacement within the country whose impact on poverty and quality of life is still visible.
At the end of the first of those decades, a young Ana María Ibáñez entered the Faculty of Economics at the Universidad de los Andes.
Her work, considered a watershed in the issue of inequality generated by this displacement, would lead her to influence the Government's policy on land.
During her master's and doctoral studies, Ibáñez was one of the first scholars to survey displaced persons and gather data on how the loss of land created poverty, impacted income, education, and opportunities for younger generations. .
“He is the person who has carried out the most rigorous investigations on inequality in this country and these investigations have determined public policies both for government programs to try to reduce this inequality, and to have indicators that are faithful to reality and thus carry out land policy. ”, said his colleague from the Universidad de los Andes, where Ibáñez became Dean of the Faculty of Economics, Lucas Ospino, according to a publication in the institution's magazine
Its influence on economic policy is materialized today in the agrarian chapter of the peace agreement that the Government signed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The research findings of Ibáñez and his colleagues were instrumental in designing a land policy that would return access to land to the displaced, which could impact 8.4 million Colombians.
After being a visiting professor at Yale and Princeton universities in the United States, Ibáñez joined the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Washington, where she is now a researcher.
Mexico would not be what it is today if it were not for Ifigenia Martínez.
The first Mexican to graduate from Harvard University with a master's and doctorate, Martínez is an economist, politician, legislator and diplomat.
In addition, as an academic, she was director of the Faculty of Economics of the Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
Among his students was President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who, with his help and guidance, also studied at Harvard.
She was a teacher and also an inspiration to many others who made up a first generation of officials in the Mexican government considered "technocrats" because they were appointed to their posts because of their technical abilities, and not because of their ideology.
Although she was enormously influential on Salinas, who signed the first free trade agreement in Mexico to go from being a "mixed" economy to an open one, Martínez is "the bearer of unquestionably nationalist ideological convictions," as described by the authors of a book in his tribute,
Political Economy of Contemporary Mexico.
His has been a strong political and intellectual counterbalance
As a legislator, she fought so that farmers would not find themselves unprotected in the face of foreign competition.
Among her proposals was, for example, revising the trade agreement, known as the FTA, to include clauses to protect agriculture.
Those who know her know that Martínez speaks her mind when she thinks it's necessary and no matter who it makes her uncomfortable.
A declared ally of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Martínez did not miss the opportunity in 2022, when, when she took the microphone to thank the highest award granted by the Mexican Congress, she declared: "The endorsement of respect for the division of Powers must be maintained unharmed, without threats or pressure.”
Chilean, American and Czech, Stephany Griffith-Jones has sounded the alarm about the ills that have afflicted the world from the financial system for 50 years.
Excessive and poorly managed debt, volatile capital flows and financial crises, this PhD in Economics from the University of Cambridge has left her mark throughout the region and, in particular, in Chile, where she was an adviser during the electoral campaign of President Gabriel Boric
One of his many books,
Debt and development crisis in Latin America: The end of an illusion
, published in 1986, showed with data the terrible consequences of the Latin American debt crisis of the eighties on the economic development of the region.
Akin to left-wing social democratic thinking, Griffith-Jones has advocated for faster IMF aid, with fewer strings attached and on a larger scale.
It is perhaps the fiercest promoter of development banking, which offers countries friendlier interest rates and terms for projects and reforms that promote economic development.
This also works as an alternative to market debt that can, due to being subject to external factors, fluctuate strongly, compromising the countries' budgets.
During her time as Boric's adviser, she proposed the creation of a National Development Bank, which would be public, and would have specific development objectives.
Griffith-Jones was included in the list of the 100 most influential economists in the world by the specialized magazine Richtopia.
She was a professor at the University of Sussex and Columbia University before being appointed a member of the Board of the Central Bank of Chile in May 2022, the highest authority body within the autonomous institution.
Griffith-Jones is one of five members with decision-making power over monetary policy and financial regulation.
In an October 28 photo shared on social media, Chilean President Gabriel Boric poses with Italian and American economist Mariana Mazzucato.
Boric holds three books, all authored by Mazzucato.
He has read them all.
Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value and Director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London (UCL) Mazzucato is the guru of left-wing governments in South America.
Her visit in October was not only to Santiago de Chile, but also to Buenos Aires and Bogotá, where she met with the presidents of both countries.
She is considered one of the most influential economists of her generation due to her vision of a capitalism in which the State invests in innovation to generate wealth.
It is not only a matter of the State allowing the private initiative to take risks and innovate, argues the academic, but the State also innovating where the private initiative does not want or cannot.
After his visit to Latin America, Mazzucato wrote in this newspaper that the solution to the problems of poverty, low productivity and dependence on natural resources "demands progressive governance and an emphasis on clear economic objectives," he wrote.
“Governments will need a new narrative that brings innovation-driven growth to the fore.
It is not that Latin American countries need disruptive innovations (like the ones we see in Silicon Valley), but innovation with specific purposes, to solve specific problems, such as the growing digital divide and the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse".
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