Challenging patriarchal norms: Returning women migrants from El Arrogante de Benitez, Oaxaca, Mexico

Authors: Veneranda Juarez-Varela*, Universidad Autonoma Chapingo
Topics: Migration, Gender, Rural Geography
Keywords: Returning women migrants, agriculture and citizenship
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Roosevelt 4.5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper examines the changes in the role of returning women migrants participating in a farming-oriented market. I examine the main findings of research carried out in El Arrogante de Benitez, a farming community located in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca, Mexico. In this village, small-scale farmers obtain their livelihoods from non-irrigated staple crops, vegetables from irrigated plots and participation in the labor market in and outside agricultural activities. Data were obtained through in-deep interviews and focal groups during the summer of 2016. Women returned to their village after working for some years in the United States of America (USA) as harvest workers. Women acquired training to farm vegetables and learned about their rights. These returning women migrants challenge their traditional role in the community as housewives. However, they face many disadvantages including access to productive resources such as land, financing, training and market. Despite these disadvantages, returning migrant women began to grow market-oriented vegetables in Arrogante de Benitez. In Mexico, women and men by law have the same rights, but this village is governed by “Usos y Costumbres”; traditional practices that privilege men over women. Women are not full citizens under these traditional practices and are excluded in the decision-making process for all issues in the community. Men do not allow women go to Oaxaca City to sell their vegetables even though women could sell at better prices in the city. Despite this patriarchal system, some women are able to grow and sell vegetables in the local market.

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