By now, a significant chunk of Argentina’s population has been confined to their homes for two and a half months. But it would be a mistake to say the economy has shut down, according to Mercedes D’Alessandro.

“The economy is more alive than ever if you think about the care economy,” she told AQ, referring to sectors like nursing and education, as well as work done at home, such as cleaning and caring for children.

D’Alessandro is Argentina’s national director of economy, equality and gender, a newly created position within the economy ministry. For D’Alessandro, the pandemic is an opportunity to expand society’s conception of the economy: she notes that the lockdown has heightened the importance of work that is often minimized, underpaid (or unpaid) and carried out largely by women, including domestic work, childcare and education.

It’s by focusing on these spaces where D’Alessandro, 42, stands out from mainstream economists – and where she hopes to have the biggest impact.

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