Today, four out of ten women work and two out of ten provide the major part of their family’s income, according to the INEGI (statistics organization in Mexico). While 88.4% of men who are heads of family are in the work market, the percentage of working women is growing, today being 49.7%.
In Mexico, we have to make a distinction between rural and urban women. Indeed, rural women are usually seen as powerless, dedicated to their house, totally subordinated to men. Religion rules their morals and values.
Because of the high rates of male immigration to the US, rural women usually stay home alone, in charge of their families, making them the main pillar of the house and of the community.
In the case of urban women, who tend to work more, primary focuses are studies, leaving for some time the idea of a stable couple and the creation of a family. As the economic crisis came, women had to find ways to earn more money for themselves and their families, which pushed them to work more.
There is a clear distinction between more popular sector, where women see themselves realized in maternity, and where children are their reason of being. As the urban population increases in Mexico, so does the idea that women should do much more than raising children.
Although, big steps have been taken to fight gender inequality, there is still a long way to go. In the Mexican Congress, women represent less than 25% of participants. CEO jobs in great companies seem to be reserved to men, for only 9% of these jobs are held by women.In terms of wages, men earn on average 28% more than women. In executive jobs, women earn no more than 65% of men’s wage.
There are still some discriminations towards women in a job, for they are given unflexible schedules, don’t have the right to services such as childcare. More importantly, there is a unadequate distribution of the family tasks at home (women are supposed to cook, take care of children, and clean the house).
In Mexico, women are owners of 23% of small businesses. Women only hold 20 of the 460 directive jobs of the 37 biggest Mexican companies (4.34%).Women’s presence in social life has been very little recognized in Mexico, despite the fact that, since the Independence war, women were a key element for the creation of the country. During the Revolutionnary war, women were nurses, soldiers and clandestine activists. Their role in the country has been very important in politcal life and other fields such as labor and eduation.
Today, the participation of married women in economic life is less than that of single, divorced or widowed women. In enterprises, bosses won’t hire women who are pregnant or have kids, because they will be less economically efficient for them than a single woman.
In 1990, the feminine labor force represented around 30% of the economically active population.
As for education, women have won much in the last 5 decades. Before, women didn’t have access to education in the country; in schools, there were 3 women for 7 men, and out of 4 graduates, only 1 was a woman (men were prefered by parents, as they was supposed to “sustain” the family).
Between 1999 and 2000, women reached half of the college population, a tendency that has been mantained during the decade.Today, much more women go out and try to enter the work forces, although most of the times they are forced to do so, as their husband’s wage is not enough for the family. Nevertheless, a lot of men still see women as domestic employees and inferior to them. In some cases, women still have to ask permission to go out (which is more frequent in rural zones than in urban ones).Considering that 50% of mexican population are women, public policies for gender equality should follow, avoiding the impediment of political and social developement.Much is still to be done to acquire gender equality, not just in Mexico, but around the world. The fight is not over, and never will it be.
by Wendy T.