This essay explores a number of issues relating to Gender Roles in Mexico. I have tried throughout to maintain an academic tone and reference accordingly, but in reality this is a reflective piece on a subject about which I feel strongly, and I’m sure it will read as such. In terms of research, I have used a combination of academic texts, a group interview and my own experience. The interview was conducted in a conversational manner with three Mexican women. They are all university students between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two, from reasonably well off families, and as such I cannot claim that they are in any way representative of the Mexican population as a whole.
One of the points raised during the interview was the idea that, while Mexico still has a long way to go in terms of gender parity, things are in a constant state of change. For this reason I decided to investigate some of the historical developments that have created the situation we see today. Gender roles, and more generally the family unit, are deeply ingrained within Mexican society, and whole volumes could be written about their origins and development. The analysis here, however, will be restricted to two policy changes during the 20th century which have been identified by feminist scholars as particularly important in shaping the norms that define the modern Mexican family.
Vaughan (2000) notes that during the first half of the twentieth century Mexico was relatively progressive in throwing off nineteenth century patriarchy. She cites a worldwide trend away from a completely male centric model towards a more modern archetype, in order to cope with seismic changes in the global economic system. Jargon aside, it was recognized that basic levels of education and agency for women were now an economic necessity rather than a high minded ideal. Mexico’s relative progress in this area, according to Vaughan, was due to a need to control and placate a rebellious peasantry.
References: Momsen, J. H. (2004) Gender and Development. Routledge: New York. Varley, A. (2000) ‘Women and the Home in Mexican Family Law’, in Dore, E and Molyneux, M. (eds.) Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America. Duke University Press: London. Vaughan, M. K. (2000) ‘Modernizing Patriarchy: State Policies, Rural Households and Women In Mexico, 1930-1940’ in Dore, E and Molyneux, M. (eds.) Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America. Duke University Press: London. World Bank (2011) More Women in Latin America get Degrees, Jobs, but Still Struggle to balance Work and Family life. (Accessed: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/LACEXT / 0,,contentMDK:23032240~pagePK:146736~piPK:146830~theSitePK:258554,00.html, 15/04/2012)