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Women _ Work I


									Women & Work in Latin America

  Theoretical Background
  Illustration: Women Berry Workers in
   Michoacán, Mexico

 Two Perspectives:
   Washington Concensus (Neoliberalism):
     International investment & free trade contribute to
      expansion of production, new technologies,
      create new jobs, improve living standards
   Globalization contributes to unemployment,
     The globalized market consolidates U.S.
      capitalism around the world
 Which of these perspectives is best
Globalization & Latin America
 Globalization is associated with:
   WTO promoted free trade
   Cultural imperialism (McDonalds, Walmart),
   Forced out-migration
   Environmental destruction
   Social Inequities:
      20% control 83% of Production
      60% survive on 6% of the GDP
 It is NOT sustainable & resistance is mounting
  Globalization & Women

 Increases the exploitation of women
   Women enter the job market on the global
    assembly line (global sweat shops)
   The informal sector
   Or are forced into sex trade
 The invisible economy of housework is
  neglected—involves the double day

The institutions that promote globalization
 are gendered—male expressions of
 capitalist patriarchy
   IMF, World Bank, & Structural Adjustment
   Policies neglect gender inequality &
    differences in power & distribution of
    resources within households
   Unpaid domestic labor is not viewed as an
    essential economic activity
   75% of emergency funds are channeled to
      Assuming they will automatically benefit women
        Feminist Theory

 Neoliberal policies depend on unequal
  power relations between men & women
 Women’s unpaid domestic labor is vital to
  the success of structural adjustment
 Women’s reproductive roles serve as a
  safety net for these policies…

 The model depends on women’s unpaid
  domestic labor to feed, clothe, and educate
  children even when they work outside the
 Women are responsible for household
  budgets, thus carry the burden of structural
 They must reduce purchases & intensify their
  household and extra-domestic work
 Land used for subsistence crops is
  transformed to export production, reducing
  their ability to feed their families
 Young girls often leave school to help their
  mothers or work in the labor market to help the
 The model assumes women will subordinate 7
  their own interests to sustain a system that
Women in the Labor Force

 Women joined the labor force in
  unprecedented numbers (34% of total
 Women do 2/3 of the work in their
 Yet they earn 35-50% less than men

              Helen Safa
—Economic Restructuring & Gender Subordination

 Structural Adjustment weakens labor &
  strengthens capital (comparative study of
  Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba)
 Multi-level analysis: Global, National, Local
 Challenges the “Myth of the Male Breadwinner”
 Importance of women’s social reproduction
  when the state no longer fulfills its
 Relate examples from her article to the
  presentation on women berry workers in
             Christine Ho:
   Caribbean Transnationalism As a Gendered Process

 Globalization (“Late Capitalism”)
   IMF/World Bank structural adjustment
 Migration as a safety valve & reliance on
 Affect on family structures
   Matrifocal families are not the problem, but a
    solution to late capitalism
   Capitalism & Patriarchy function together to promote
    gender & class oppression
   They granted males a family wage, assuming
    women’s earnings were merely supplemental
     Gendered Ideologies
 Neoclassic theory: Explains gender
  disparities by women’s association with the
  domestic sphere
 Assumes women are economically dependent
  on men (normative nuclear family;
       re: Safa’s Myth of the Male Breadwinner)
 Men (productive work) transfer their wages to
  economically dependent women (reproductive
 Thus women’s wages are seen as
   They receive money from men in exchange for managing
    family life
   Families & Households

 The “FAMILY” is viewed as a set of
  norms based on marriage & co-residence
 This conception ignores the culturally
  specific ways that families & households
  organize themselves
   Nuclear, extended, female-headed, joint,
   1 in 5 families in Latin America is female-
  Gendered Ideologies are
Embedded in the Labor Market
   & Societal Institutions
 Radical Theory: Women’s subordination is
  based on patriarchal ideology
   Gender inequality is subsumed under a system of
 “The Patriarchal Bargain” – Male authority
  offers women protection & security, thus they
  will sacrifice personal needs & cede decision
  making to income-generating husbands
 Radical feminists theorize the household as the
  source of gender oppression & unequal power
 Marxist Theory: Women’s
  subordination is rooted in the
  capitalist system of production
   Gender inequality is subsumed in class

 Christine Ho: Women are doubly
  subordinated by intersecting systems
  of capitalism & patriarchy

       So Who is Right?

 Luz de Alba Acevedo:
  “Salaried work constitutes a necessary
  condition to affirm women’s autonomy
  from men”
 Edna Acosta-Belén & Christine Bose:
  “Women as a Last Colony”—women enter the
    work force as exploited, low waged workers

The Impact of Globalization
 Poverty:
   2 million jobs lost in a single year
   40% Loss of family income
   150 million living below the poverty line
    (an increase of 20 million)
 Lifestyles in the global North are
  supported on the backs of people in the
  global South
Some Latin American Examples
 El Salvador:
    Entry of fast food, shopping malls
    Imports are double the amount of goods that it exports
    Rising debt & dependence on remittances
 Nicaragua:
    70% live in poverty, 60% unemployed
 Mexico:
    Farmers pushed off land in massive numbers
    Billionaires increased from 2 to 24 (economic inequality)
 Honduras:
    Banana, sugar, beef industries feed the North American
     breakfast table—at the expense of corn, beans, rice
    Food shortages
 Guatemala:
    Maquiladora workers earn $1.00 per day, 16 hour days
    40,000 workers, 80% are women
    Garment industry exports $100 million in clothing per year
Labor Market Segmentation

 Example from Michoacán
   Michoacán is a major site of male migration
    to the U.S.
   Agricultural exports segmented the labor
   1980s & 1990s women in the agricultural
    work force increased 300%

“Things have changed since women started
to work in the strawberry plants. The village
has progressed. Before, we didn’t have
enough to eat. Now families can buy food
and clothing. The girls have changed too.
They are not afraid to go out alone. They go
wherever they want. It used to be that we
didn’t even know what the nearby town was
like and we didn’t talk to anyone who wasn’t
from the village. Now the girls have
boyfriends—some even marry boys from
other places who they met in the packing

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