Rural women’s livelihood strategies in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in Mexico’s Mixteca Alta region

Authors: Matthew Lorenzen*, Institute of Geography, UNAM, Fátima Martínez Reyes*, Institute of Geography, UNAM
Topics: Gender, Latin America, Rural Geography
Keywords: rural livelihoods, livelihood strategies, COVID-19, women, resilience
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 33
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

According to a recent report by UN Women, the global economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will increase poverty rates worldwide, though women will be hit the hardest, worsening the gender poverty gap and potentially rolling back women’s economic gains of past decades. Nevertheless, the role of women in preserving livelihoods during the pandemic is key. This paper seeks to study the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in nine rural municipalities that make up the Mixteca Alta UNESCO Global Geopark, in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, while also analyzing the livelihood strategies implemented by individuals and households to attempt to offset those impacts. We focus more particularly on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women, as well as on women’s livelihood strategies, analyzing the results of in-depth interviews with key informants and women from the nine municipalities. Due to the pandemic’s especially harsh effects on the service sector, which is a key income source for women, we contend that individuals and households in our study area have implemented a “return to the land” livelihood strategy, seeking to ensure their self-sustenance in basic goods. More significantly, we maintain that women are critical to this strategy by participating in agricultural activities with other household members and by reactivating backyard vegetable gardens and orchards, which were previously widespread but had begun to be abandoned in the context of deagrarianization. Through these actions, women play a crucial role in the resilience of their rural communities.

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