“We women must learn to go out into and feel
comfortable in local and global spaces equally, in order to represent our
peoples” – Quote from Pachamama, 2000
This week I wanted to incorporate marginalization of women in Andean communities outside of Bolivia. I came across an article by Sarah Radcliffe, Nina Laurie, and Robert Andolina, titled The Transnationalization of Gender and Reimagining Andean Indigenous Development (2004), which incorporated marginalization of women in both Bolivia and Ecuador.
What I liked most about this article was how the authors related the issues back to the economy and local/national governments. They discuss capital and the roles of both men and women in indigenous and peasant households.
Specifically, they discuss stressors particular to women and use quotes from women that talk about some of them. For example, one quotes states:
““Women’s most specific problem is poverty. They [development
experts] talk about our right to health, to mental well-being. But how
are we to have this if we’re worried about sending our kids to school
without lunch? What will I cook? The lack of understanding in the home
[between spouses] is our problem too, because there is no shared work
and . . . there is violence”
The authors also discuss the types of divisions of labor between men and women in the Andes. Women are usually tasked with agricultural aspects that are “undervalued or unacknowledged” (p. 392). Although majority of women work, only few actually get paid. It is typical for “village leaders, policy makers, and governments” to not “acknowledge” the work of those women (p. 392). Other issues include education, language, and domestic violence.
Women can attend school. However, very few actually do and the quality of the schools available for them to attend is poor. Poverty and cultural norms usually keep most women from attending.
“Indigenous women in the Ecuadorian highlands receive just 1.4 years of
schooling on average, compared with 2.4 years for indigenous men and
seven years for Ecuadorian women on average” – Radcliffe, Laurie, & Andolina, 2004, p. 392.
Another interesting aspect of this article was that more men than women are fluent in Spanish, which presents problems because its the language most widely used throughout the area and present in educational facilities. Women’s roles are said to be in “maintaining values, language, and cultural identities” (p. 393). There is tension between progressive indigenous women who want to move toward European/feminist approaches regarding roles (mainly to deal with marginalization issues) and those who resist that movement, often caused by issues of domestic violence.
“Domestic violence remains one of the most contentious issues for indigenous gender politics and is also coincidentally one of the
themes where indigenous women draw on international initiatives to clarify
their own perspective” – Radcliffe, Laurie, & Andolina, 2004, p. 393-394.
Though the most interesting part of this article, in my opinion, was the article about indigenous women and social movements. According to the authors, the women in these communities are those who “most have their identity, most have their vision” (p. 395). Therefore, they believe those women are crucial when it comes to social movements because they can “recuperate cultural identity” (p. 395).
Source: Radcliffe, S.A., Laurie, N., & Andolina, R. 2004. The Transnationalization of Gender and Reimagining Andean Indigenous Development. Signs Journal of Women in Culture and Society 29(2):387-416.