Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Political Science

Major Professor

Michael Scott Solomon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Bernd Reiter, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dawood Sultan, Ph.D.


HIV/AIDS, IMF, World Bank, Structural Adjustment Programs, Feminism


Scholars have examined the impacts of neoliberal policies on women, children, small farmers and more, but little attention has been paid to the impact of these policies on orphans. The issue of orphan care is crucial now, and will become increasingly more urgent in the future. Even as HIV/AIDS rates are on the decline, more and more children are being orphaned by the disease. This paper examines the policies, positions and language of the World Bank and I.M.F. regarding orphans in order to understand the biases and assumptions within neoliberalism about orphans, and who is responsible for providing care for them. I then compare the assumptions, commitments, policies, and language of neoliberalism with those of community based organizations working with orphans in sub-Saharan Africa. To personify the effects that neoliberal policies have on orphans and orphan care, I interview orphan care providers in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia. I conclude that the neoliberal approach relegates orphan care to the private sector (charities, extended families, NGOs). That approach is flawed in many ways. An alternative theoretical foundation, the Feminist Ethic of Care, argues for public sector support. The Feminist approach contends that care is not the "burden" of private citizens, but the "duty" of a democratic government.