Extractivism, Gender, and Disease: An Intersectional Approach to Inequalities

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Abstract: Social inequalities can only be understood through the interaction of their multiple dimensions. In this essay, we show that the economic and environmental impacts of natural resource extraction exacerbate gendered disparities through the intensification and devaluation of care work. A chikungunya epidemic in the refinery city of Esmeraldas, Ecuador, serves to highlight the embodied and structural violence of unhealthy conditions. Despite its promises of development, the extraction-based economy in Esmeraldas has not increased its vulnerable populations’ opportunities. It has, instead, deepened class and gendered hierarchies. In this context, the most severe effects of chikungunya are experienced by women, who bear the burden of social reproduction and sustaining lives under constant threat.

Keywords: extractive economies, care work, gender, health inequalities, structural violence

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Category: Essay, Issue 32.2

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