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CHILDREN IN FOCUS. 1992 Jan-Mar; 4(1):8.Working class women have always been creative in developing methods of surviving when times get bad. Examples include: earning income from informal sector work, trading in foods stuffs and manufactured items, domestic work. They also alter their consumption patterns by cutting purchases and making do with less, and by planting kitchen gardens. Others relay on remittances from relatives who have migrated to developed nations. Most use multiple strategies to secure the well being of their children and family. These flexible behavior patterns are among the strengths of Caribbean working class women that allow them to deal the harsh realities of poverty. However these strengths have been turned around and used against these women by many governmental and international agencies. The fact that they are able to cope is used to support programs that only perpetuate the situation rather than helping these women to change their lives. These women are caught in a cycle of deprivation, powerlessness, acceptance of hardship, survival strategies, continuing exploitation and continuing deprivation. Because of the actions of such agencies there are 3 basic strategies that should be followed: (1) those designed to ensure day to day maintenance, (2) those designed to determine the elements necessary for longer term solutions, (3) those that challenge negative macroeconomic policies. Strategies must also be distinguished based on those that meet practical gender needs, and those that address strategic gender interests. The importance of this distinction can be seen in the austerity measures which have been central features of most adjustment policies. Policies must be formed in a holistic context that revolve around macro economic issues.