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33 • 2 Gender,Class,andStateinChild ProtectionProgramsinQuito C hild 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 under changing conditions. This was a gendered terrain in that mothers were considered to be key actors in their children’s lives but also in how other groups of women took on important roles in child protection activities. Men also intervened in new ways in child welfare issues, casting the problems as an arena of technical expertise and secular state action, in which the state itself took on a gendered hue as its institutions were depicted as paternalistic actors, most notably where other male protectors were absent. As the state sought to modernize the activities of various women who intervened in these areas, so too was the state itself modernized. Although we can only occasionally discern the perspectives of poor women and girls in the documentation about child protection and welfare, it is nonetheless possible to tease out some patterns of experience and agency among them. The period explored here is roughly the four decades before the 1938 passage of Ecuador’s first Child Code (Código de Menores), which centralized and harmonized various child protection programs and institutions.2 34 • GENDER, CLASS, AND STATE IN CHILD PROTECTION PROGRAMS IN QUITO Two state institutions with rather different profiles oversaw issues of child health and welfare in Quito in the early decades of the twentieth century, sometimes directly intervening in specific areas of child protection, and at other times monitoring, coordinating, or partially funding subordinate institutions of public, private, or mixed character, both secular and religious. A year after the Liberal Revolution, the public Junta de Beneficencia was created in Quito by an executive decree, modeled on the active but private Junta de Beneficencia already existing in Guayaquil.3 The members of the Junta were prominent men appointed by the government who undertook their activities on an unpaid (pro bono or ad honorem) basis. Together they oversaw various social welfare institutions: medical treatment facilities such as the Hospital Civil San Juan de Dios, the Maternidad (lying-in clinic), and the Lazareto de Pifo (lepers’ colony ); the Hospicio y Manicomio, linked facilities for the destitute poor and the mentally ill; and institutions dedicated to the care of orphans (San Carlos and San Vicente), as well as orphanage sections within Catholic facilities such as El Buen Pastor, La Providencia, and Los Sagrados Corazones. Members of the Junta were appointed as subinspectors of these various facilities, which were administered by Catholic nuns on behalf of the state, or in some cases the state sponsored children in special sections within Catholic institutions. The Junta included some physicians but also lawyers, landowners, merchants, and a range of other local notables. The funding available for the Beneficencia’s projects was extended in 1904 by the Ley de Cultos, which—in the midst of conflict over separation of church and state—turned the administration of rural landed estates owned by foreign religious orders over to the state and dictated that such orders must submit an annual budget to the government detailing the monies needed for their activities. After deducting the amounts approved for these annual budgets, whatever profit margin remained from productive activities on these properties would then be invested in urban social welfare institutions by the Junta de Beneficencia. The October 1908 Ley de Beneficencia went further than the 1904 Ley de Cultos, actually expropriating and nationalizing the properties of religious orders, including the many rural agricultural estates that had provisioned the urban convents. Those properties then became the state-owned haciendas de asistencia pública, which were rented out to private individuals, generating rental fees that partially funded the Beneficencia’s programs of urban social welfare and health care.4 Another result was that the urban real estate of religious orders became the property of the state. Thus, for instance, in 1910 the minister of the interior and beneficencia authorized the Junta de Beneficencia to freely celebrate...


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