Sunday, September 18, 2005

Machismo and its effects

The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has issued a report (in Spanish) regarding machismo in Latin American societies. As described in El Mundo, the report finds that El Salvador has the second highest percentage of men who describe a man's role in the most patriarchal and traditional terms. 60% of Salvadoran men view the father as the "indisputable head" of the household. In this conception, the father's role is to provide resources and to be the disciplinary authority in the home. The woman's role is one which is passive and submissive.

El Mundo notes, however, that these views of a man's traditional role of father and head of household often vary from the actual structures of Salvadoran households. Because of the dislocations created by the civil war, and social influences like migration to the United States, most Salvadorans do not live in traditional households, and households headed by a single woman are very common.

Also released recently was a study by ECLAC of gender equity in Latin America. The study found that Latin American countries, including El Salvador, have already met the Millennium Development Goals of having as many girls as boys attending school. In fact, in El Salvador, more girls than boys attend school at all age levels.

Despite erasing educational disparity, there is still significant disparity in wages and employment of men and women in the workforce. Women, on average, earn 78% of what men earn in El Salvador. The study notes that, not surprisingly, those stereotypes of a woman's role contribute to this wage gap:

Gender wage gaps result from many different forms of discrimination. These include education-related factors (despite considerable progress in this area), working hours (as most parttime workers are women), occupational segmentation (brought about in part by obstacles linked to family obligations), gender stereotypes, traditional gender roles and work experience. For many women, the level of experience they accumulate reflects their reproductive cycle, although fewer and fewer women leave the labour market when they have children....

In Latin America and the Caribbean, transformations in the labour market and womenÂ’s educational achievements have not been matched by changes in the distribution of family responsibilities. This places the region on an equal footing with other regions where women have the primary responsibility for unpaid household work and caregiving activities.

1 comment:

wally said...

One of the other hidden maladies of machismo is that it seems to be a badge of machismo honor for husbands to be sexually active outside the marriage. In some places it's very common for the husband to have at least one mistress, if not more. I have lived here for two years and have met three ladies with AIDS, (there are obviously many more), and all three caught it from philandering husbands. At least in the cities, prostitutes are plentiful and cheap. There are also a lot of kids born out of these affairs that no one seems to want. The Spanish word for wife, esposa, is also used in the plural to mean handcuffs. Immorality is a worldwide problem to be sure, but there is a special ingrainedness in the machismo culture.