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The findings

A comparison of the educational profiles of the urban women indicated a substantial increase in educational levels from the older to the younger cohort. The latter was predominantly high-school-educated, whereas the largest group of the older cohort had only completed primary school. There were also differences between the socioeconomic strata: a greater proportion of the younger urban cohort in the upper stratum reached higher education. Although the data on the rural women also showed more education, low levels of attainment in both cohorts reflected the high primary-school drop-out rates and poor access to secondary and further education. Even in the younger rural cohort, the average level education was uncompleted primary schooling. Nevertheless, the younger members of all socioeconomic strata, and particularly those in the urban area, stayed in the educational system longer and so postponed their transition to other stages for longer than the older cohorts had done.

Although urban women in the lower and middle strata have increased their labour-force participation, the bimodal pattern of their participation followed that of the women in the older cohort in the same strata, at least up to the time of the survey. This reflects activity cycles shaped by the incompatibility of their productive and reproductive roles. The younger urban women of the upper stratum, however, not only increased their participation in relation to the older cohort in the same stratum, at least up to the time of the interviews, but, as they spent more time in the educational system, their entry into the labour force was significantly later. There was a trend among the younger urban women to move away from sales and service Jobs to professional or administrative occupations and from non-salaried to salaried work. These changes imply more demanding schedules and responsibilities, which make their employment even more incompatible with their reproductive role. The development of child-care services as part of the private educational system may help them overcome some of the difficulties.

Work experience had a negative effect on family formation, regardless of the form it took, whereas occupational status (referring to whether a woman worked in an unpaid or paid capacity) in the relevant year did not produce a significant and consistent effect. It seems that the relationship between work and family formation was determined not by the type of activity, but by contact with the labour market, whether in modern or traditional activities. However, the effect of work experience was stronger in urban than in rural areas, which presumably reflects the higher opportunity cost of children in the city. The apparent irrelevance of occupational status in a given year suggests that once decisions about having a family have been taken, they may override other considerations.

The urban and rural results demonstrate that, independent of other variables, women's place of origin had little effect on family formation. Perhaps the differentials by origin which are sometimes observed in cumulative fertility studies may be due to differences in education related to place of origin. However, place of residence had an important effect, which was apparent in the lower number of children ever born to the women in the city: 2.6 compared to 3.4 in the country areas in the younger cohorts, and 4.7 compared to 6 in the older cohorts. This reflects the impact of more access to educational, health, and family-planning services, and to better infrastructure in general, as well as to the higher direct and indirect costs of families in urban areas.

The use of contraception had a significant and negative effect on the number of children born to urban women. Among rural women, however, it did not make a marked difference to first births, but it did have a strong depressive effect on the likelihood of second and third births, an effect that rose with the number of children.

Sexuality and Fertility Control

Sexuality is sometimes considered to be a central aspect of women's subordination. The implications of female sexuality extend beyond the strictly personal in cultures in which men's dignity and the honour of the family depend heavily on their women's prudence. The rural women clearly and consistently expressed a view of sexuality differentiated according to gender. Men were considered to have wider scope and liberty in sexual behaviour, while the conduct of women had to be restricted in accordance with ethical and moral norms. Traditionally, the theme of sexuality was not a topic of conscious reflection in rural Colombian communities, at least in the Andean area. As a consequence, established social practice became the point of reference and legitimation of appropriate sexual behaviour. However, attitudes based on tradition and custom did not necessarily reflect the respondents' rational thinking on the subject. For example, there was considerable contrast between their expressed views and their answers to questions about premarital sexual relations. Though sex before marriage was counter to traditional norms, it clearly occurred. This was evident from the life-history data, which indicated a high proportion of unmarried rural women with children. Responses to questions about the necessity to educate younger generations in matters related to sexuality also revealed changing attitudes. Their initial tentative response, but subsequent readiness to discuss these issues, reflected both the women's own lack of knowledge and their realization of how this had affected the course of their lives. The specific themes of these discussions were sexual relations and procreation, and premarital sex.

Urban women in the younger cohort, regardless of socio-economic stratum, said that sexual activity should not be confined to procreation. They pointed out that it was a right acquired by couples and that their companions shared this view. Sexuality and procreation were two independent realities: the former was not subordinate. This dichotomy was not so clear to the older women. Even though some of them agreed with the younger cohort, the majority thought that to separate sexuality from procreation "is to go against God's will," although they said their husbands did not necessarily share this opinion. There was no such distinct difference in the rural cohorts. In general, the women interviewed did not think that couples should have sexual relations only when they wanted to have children. On the other hand, their subordination to the sexual demands of their husbands was manifested in expressions like "You are under the command of your husband," "from the time you marry, you are under this obligation," and "when they want it, you have to give it to them." The idea that the wife should be available to provide sexual services for her husband, without considering her own interests, emphasized the virtual absence of explicit female pleasure in sexuality. Of course these statements were affected by a double standard of sexual behaviour justified by the "different" nature of man and woman: "If you're a woman, yes you would have sexual relations only to have children], men no," and "they need to use your body." When asked if men agreed that sex should be solely for procreation, a majority of the group said no. The difference between male power and perceptions and female submission was reiterated. Some said that "they need a woman when they want it" and "they decide what to do."

Analysing attitudes to sexuality and premarital sex together reveals a well-defined difference between cohorts. Older urban women maintained a definite moral perspective, considering sexual relations to be exclusively for legally married couples. Premarital sexual relations were seen as immoral. Moreover, deeper examination suggested that for them morality had specific cultural connotations which emphasized the differences between the genders and women's subordinate status. Younger urban women approved of sex for single women, but their opinions differed by stratum. Upper- and middle-strata women agreed with such relationships because they believed that women have the same rights as men, and that it was a good idea for couples to get to know each other before marriage. From this perspective these young women appraised sexual activity in a positive way, reinforcing equality between men and women. However, women from the lower stratum did not identify with sexual equality. For them, premarital sex was conditional on contraception, since they thought that this was a situation in which they ran a high risk of being cheated by their companion, even to the extent of being rejected if they got pregnant.

Two-thirds of all the women in the rural area disapproved of premarital sex. The others, mostly older women in the middle and upper strata, were not so critical. Although ethical and moral considerations were mentioned, fear of social sanctions and distrust of men were more important factors. Of course, the social sanctions only operated against women. They distrusted men as they may "ridicule you," or "toss you on the junk pile," or "trick" women with whom they had sex without any formal agreement.

In fact the great majority of women did not believe men and women had equal rights to engage in premarital sex. Younger rural women from the lower and middle strata rejected the idea unanimously. Few of the older rural women from the upper stratum claimed to be in agreement. By and large, they emphasized the double standard of sexual behaviour - "The woman should be more sensible," "a woman is faithful to one man only," or "a woman should be careful and control herself" - while men were considered "rovers" or "tom-cats": "The man has a thousand times more freedom; they're not criticized." However, there were more older women who thought that the same standards should apply to both women and men: "We should have this freedom because we are human beings equal to men. But for us, the women, we are branded for any little thing." "We women have equal rights to those of men! It's just that unfortunately we have been denied this freedom to define our own lives, have our relationships. . ."

The survey indicated that attitudes to premarital sexual autonomy had changed most among younger urban women of the upper stratum. Younger urban women from the lower stratum also accepted premarital relations, but, in keeping with their traditional vision of the situation, they did not trust their companions.

Abortion was another very difficult various studies show that women's opinions about abortion do not correspond to their actual behaviour. Studies of women hospitalized for abortion indicate that, in spite of their situation, in principle they reject this practice. Similarly, data from the life-histories show that although they were opposed to it, urban women had had abortions. Although none of them approved of it, there were variations in the way women from the different cohorts and strata explained their attitude. All the older women and the younger women from the lower stratum said that abortion was a sin because "it was to take a life," "to deny the right to be born," or "to act against a human being unable to defend himself." Younger women from the upper and middle strata said that "it cannot be asserted that abortion is a sin," "it depends on each one's values," and "it is not a sin if you do it in time." Some maintained that abortion was not a crime because "sometimes it is necessary" and "you have to take into account the causes that led to the abortion, such as violation, economic capacity of the woman, and whether she wants the baby or not." When the older women who did not share this position considered these situations in relation to their daughters, they said that they would prefer to offer understanding and advice about family planning and, if it became necessary, "they will help to bring up the child."

The rural women generally condemned abortion on religious, ethical. and legal grounds, though some of the women from the upper stratum softened this blanket rejection by analysing the characteristics of certain situations that women have to face. However, the strong religious and cultural tradition of rural Colombia, which constructed an image of women destined for motherhood, has produced an ideological barrier that impedes any real reflection on the issue. For this reason, abortion assumes another significance it not only means the denial of life to a new being, it also indicates the absolute rejection of the role of motherhood.

Abortion emphasizes another contradiction in women's lives. On the one hand there is the immutable moral stance of the church, upheld by the negative position of the state. On the other hand, society promulgates standards based on an apparent freedom of choice for women. In spite of this sexual freedom, a woman finds it very difficult to sustain a pregnancy if she is not legally married. If the conflict is resolved through abortion, it may be assumed to be at a high emotional cost. The nature of the social norms that influence a woman's sexuality and her life as an individual means she must be ready to make considerable sacrifices to maintain her balance.

The attitudes of urban women to family planning varied more by stratum than by cohort. All of them said that contraception should not be an exclusively female responsibility, and women from the upper and middle strata said that the decision to use contraceptives should be jointly taken by the couple after thorough discussion. They pointed out that their companions approved of family planning.

However, women from the lower stratum said that they could not discuss family planning because their companions were against it. When the women decided to use contraceptives, they had to hide them, because their men considered such decisions to be their sole prerogative, a reflection of the highly subordinated nature of their relationships. Men from this stratum were against contraceptive use for various reasons, including inadequate information and, associated with this, anxiety that it may be harmful. They also feared that they would lose control of the woman's sexuality if she used contraceptives.

Among rural women, the majority of whom accepted the responsibility to regulate family size, the use of contraceptives was clearly understood, but in their opinion, contraception should be strictly limited to married women. The use of contraceptives by single women had negative connotations and implied loss of social status. However, an increasing awareness of the social and personal costs of children can be observed through the survey, and women's interest in birth control has been stimulated as they have come to recognize the physical and psychological burdens of motherhood.

Only a few of the women from the middle stratum, most of them older, disapproved of birth control. The majority recognized the advantages of family planning since "it helps you avoid having a flock of kids." The practical benefits justified the regulation of procreation. Reservations about contraceptives arose from two basic sources - religious dogma and fear of health risks. Some women said it was "better not to plan, because when children come the hand of God is in it"; babies came "all because of the will of God." Others expressed a fear of the possible consequences of contraception. An older woman from the middle stratum exemplified this view: "I don't agree, because they say that contraceptives bring many side-effects and illnesses for women."

Although the data indicate that the majority of rural women believed in joint decisions on the use of contraception, analysis of the comments suggests that this might only be because some of the women were afraid to make independent decisions which could result in retaliative action by their spouses. As one older women from the lower stratum said: "If it is only the wife, there are problems in the home, because the husband is going to say that if it is so she can have other relations. . . so I think in this sense that there ought to be a common agreement so that there won't be any. . . disagreement in the home.'' On the other hand, as some rural women pointed out, decisions on contraception were more important to women because "the woman suffers, the man isn't interested in the number of children," "they don't see past having the children," "the woman gets pregnant. . ." This implicit and explicit criticism of men's lack of interest and irresponsibility in family planning was a recurrent theme.

Rural women were asked what they thought about the use of birth control by others, first their daughters in general, secondly their unmarried daughters, and, finally, other single women. The answers to the question referring to their daughters were mixed, including positive, negative, and conditional responses. More than half thought that their daughters should use contraceptives, while the rest answered that it would depend on the specific situation. In all strata, approval was associated above all with a pragmatic approach which affirmed that it is not always convenient, nor economically feasible, to have a large family. One younger woman from the upper stratum said: "Yes, surely, I would advise my daughter that when she marries the best thing is to plan to have only one child and then, with ample time for planning, to have another, and that she should be thinking of the children she will have and know how she's going to educate them." The conditional responses encompassed a more traditional view of the woman in the family. They suggested that their daughters should practice contraception only when they were married and already had several children. As a younger woman said: "When married, well, yes, but after she has already had her children. "

The use of contraceptives by single daughters was rejected by most women in both cohorts. This seemed to be based on a deep fear of the possible repercussions of "too much freedom" on their later lives. Some mothers were afraid their daughters could "become corrupted" and have "problems with their future husbands." Indeed, it could affect the possibilities of their "getting a husband" at all, as well as unleashing gossip in the community. Some of the negative opinions included extreme views of contraception as immoral and insane.

The use of contraceptives by single women in general was a controversial topic among rural women. There were opinions for and against. Half of the women from the low stratum disapproved of it, and one-third of the women from the middle and upper strata agreed with them. Half of the women in the upper stratum approved, along with one third of the middle stratum and a very few from the low stratum. Disapproval tended to be associated with reflections of an ethical and moral nature that both revealed and supported the existence of traditional patterns of female behaviour in rural areas. There was considerable suspicion of sexual relations outside marriage leading to "excessive licentiousness" or "adulterous vice." Statements like "a single woman can sleep with a married man without caring about it," "you shouldn't give in to a man, nor do those things before marriage," "it's a bad act," and "it shouldn't be that way" illustrate some of these attitudes.

Domestic Authority

The subordination of women means they have limited possibilities for taking independent initiatives in important areas of their lives and places them, totally or partially, according to their personality and situation, under male jurisdiction. The patriarchal character of Colombian culture and society has led to particular forms of socialization, protectiveness, and vigilance over female behaviour which is characterized by the authority of men over women in the organization of ethical, legal, and political relations, even within the family structures. The subordination of women is intimately linked to their economic dependence on men and to the way in which their social participation has been mediated by and through men. Women's isolation in the private domestic world has not only kept them at the margins of public life in many ways, but it also meant that, in the accepted order of things, a woman fell into second place behind her male companion.

Female dependency within the home is also the result of two other factors, which, though less tangible, are no less powerful. First, society gives men the morally approved and cultural attributes that allow them to control, judge, and sanction the behaviour of their spouses and to set limits to their freedom. Second, as some of the women said in the interviews, a deeply entrenched double standard implies that a man can do what he wants because he is a man, but a woman cannot because she is a woman. A man is given both the right to control the behaviour of his spouse, who "ought" to comply with what he determines to be best for her and for the household, regardless of her interests as an individual, and the exclusive right to her sexuality without having to abide by the same norm himself. The household has thus been organized around patterns of obedience and loyalty which are differentially applied and sanctioned according to gender.

The profound changes that have occurred in Colombian society over the past 50 years are closely related to the fact that the female population has achieved educational levels similar to those of males and that women have increased their participation in the labour force significantly. This means that women's contribution to the reproductive and productive function of the household has had to change, which could theoretically transform the basis of family organization and authority within the household. The important question is, therefore, whether or not the younger cohort now enjoys a more equal position in the domestic power structure.

The urban women were asked to consider two aspects of authority in the home: the obedience that a woman owes to a man, and household decisions on matters like housing, children's education, and family relations. Older women from the lower and middle strata accepted this obedience with its explicit implication of restrictions on their conduct according to the will of their husbands. They said that they must obey their husbands because "if we don't obey him we are not doing anything," "he is the husband and we have to obey him in everything," "we see ourselves under their command," "it is a natural law, " and "if a husband treats you well, he would be interested in the best for you."

This attitude needs to be taken into account when considering the replies to the question about family decisions. The women said that husband and wife shared family decision-making. However, their comments show that "shared" did not mean both partners had equal input: "I consult him and do what he decides" because "men are the responsible ones," and because "they are the head of the household, but of course not alone and the decision is made as a group."

When rural women were asked whether "once married, a woman ought to obey her husband," none of those in the upper stratum believed in absolute obedience. They maintained that it was necessary to reach an agreement and to make decisions that respected the views of both partners. As one observed: "You should only accept what is useful, because each spouse has his or her way of thinking and you don't have to obey if it is bad; there should be an agreement. " A more critical consciousness of the issues involved has developed in this group. This is reflected in the thinking of an older woman from the upper stratum who said: "There was a time before when you had to live subjected to your husband, to do what he said, because you didn't control even one peso, you didn't have any rights and lived too much under his thumb, but now it's not that way. Now I have seen that life is better than that, that women have the right to speak out when they want to, because men too are also more educated." The women saw an important connection between a man's education and his behaviour in the home. This was well expressed by a young woman from the upper stratum who said that "I don't think that a man who mistreats a woman is an educated person, but a person who has no dignity, nor education, nor anything else, if he believes that he has the right to beat and mistreat the woman who married him."

The older rural women from the lower-income strata were more defensive: "You don't have to let him humiliate you," and "don't let him beat you to impose his will." Their position in no way suggested the possibility of questioning the traditional norm. On the contrary, they asserted that "I have always had this obligation to obey, although there are things that are unjust," and "you have to let them dominate because you don't know how to defend yourself." This implicit acceptance of male authority affords a telling glimpse of traditional life. Sometimes this was based on a non-reflective resignation: "It's your inheritance because Eve had to obey Adam," "the law gives the wife to the husband and if she doesn't obey he leaves, " or "what he orders turns out well. " In other cases, it sprang from the pragmatic attitude that it is better to obey "because with that idea you avoid problems" or "you live better and avoid problems." It was clear that in the rural areas, domestic relationships differed much more by strata than by cohort. Some women in the upper-income stratum questioned male authority, but, although attitudes differed, almost all the rural women basically accepted male dominance.

Analysis of power relations in the urban households showed differences according to cohort and stratum. Older women from the middle and upper strata accepted an inferior position and reproduced it in educating their children, but younger women from the upper stratum were less inclined to accept the subjugation of the wife to the husband, and they educated their children in accordance with this perspective of equality. Of all the women in the study, those who had achieved most equality in household power structures were urban women in the upper stratum. For them, women did not owe obedience to men because "both have rights and obligations," "both have to submit to the same things," "they have to share everything." Decision-making was a joint process, even in matters of children's education. Indeed, they emphasized that girls and boys must be educated in the same way because "both are the same."

In fact, though all the women, urban and rural, said that raising children was a responsibility which should be many thought that fathers should educate the boys and mothers the girls, because "men are more difficult, women are more obedient," "women are more delicate, men resist more," "women understand better," and "a man has to be treated harder." In other words, although the couple might assume joint responsibility, there was a dichotomy in their actual practice which reproduced and reinforced concepts of the "weakness" of females and the "strength" of males.


Regardless of these trends, two factors continued to determine women's lives: having babies and, in conjunction with this, the role of children in their lives. Maternity shapes women's lives because they are defined by their role as mothers, at the focal point of social reproduction. This has provided the basis for a cluster of attitudes and actions which, at least ostensibly, value women for this. However, the concept has been extended to include all the responsibilities inherent in the biological and social reproduction of children and the daily care of husbands and other adult members of the household. Motherhood is thus both an honour and a heavy burden. It is also an altar on which women have sacrificed many aspects of their lives. Their reward for accepting their exclusion from various social spheres has been an increasing series of responsibilities that could and should be shared with other individuals and social groups.

When urban women were asked if the main mission of women was maternity, their reactions varied according to cohort and stratum. Older women from all strata and the younger women from the lower stratum agreed, but younger women from the middle and upper strata had different opinions. The older women said that "women were born to be mothers," that it was "life's law," "the natural mission." They felt so sure that maternity was the principal role of women that they emphasized it when discussing their daughters' lives, saying that "they are women and their purpose in life is to be women of the house and mothers," that this "is women's destiny," "the way a woman fulfils herself." They clearly expressed their belief that children were the raison ???d'Ítre for a woman. This concept of motherhood meant that they accepted concomitant rules of behaviour and social controls. Women must "maintain good behaviour," especially in sexual matters, to deserve the respect of their children who may also be their judges.

Like the older women, younger urban women from the lower stratum said that motherhood is the destiny of women. They explained that to be a mother is "to follow God's law" because "God made us women." This determinism was confirmed not only when they looked back to their mothers' lives, but also when they spoke of the future of their daughters. However, younger urban women from the upper and middle strata felt that, even though maternity is important, it is not the sole purpose of women's existence. For them, "women have other aims," "they can have children and do some other things at the same time," "having children is part of life but it is not everything." Nevertheless, these younger women agreed with the others that mothers are irreplaceable when it comes to caring for the children.

The majority of the rural women accepted motherhood as their role without question. They saw it as their unavoidable responsibility as women and their means of self-actualization. They believed that a woman can not be completely developed as a social being if she does not become a mother, because this is the central logic of her life and so the way to fulfil herself.

A corollary of this is that children have a responsibility to assist their parents when they get old; having children provides a safety net in a country in which the security of the elderly is quite uncertain. Most of the women expected or hoped that their children would support them in their old age when they could no longer do so themselves. This idea was expressed by a number of the younger women, like the one from the lower stratum who reflected that "to be a mother of a child is not only so that they can call you mama, but so that they also have to look after you later." A young woman from the upper stratum suggested that motherhood was of major importance because "when you get to a certain age, you need someone to lean on, someone to help you."

While these comments represent the majority view, it should not be overlooked that many of the women indicated that they could assume the responsibilities of motherhood and also fulfil themselves in other ways. They saw maternity as an important aspect of their female experience, but not the only one, nor did they think it should be the sole determinant of a woman's life, since she is also capable of excelling in other areas.

Almost all the rural women said that mothers were irreplaceable as providers of physical care and affection for their children. They strongly criticized women who did not undertake this task fully and without reserve. More than half condemned those who were able to breast-feed their babies but did not do so, indicating that the interests of children should take priority over those of mothers. These opinions were quite similar across cohorts and strata. Nevertheless, the traditional views expressed were in fact accompanied by some practical recognition of changing conditions. For example, the women did not reject the idea of mothers with young children being employed outside the home. This was often part of the future they envisaged for their daughters. An older woman from the upper stratum pointed out: "Today there's a lot of encouragement for women to work. . . one has to leave the children with someone to take care of them, making it possible to work. Neither can one just stay around here. . . according to your situation, when you get a chance to work you should do it . . . in this way we help our husbands."

It was the younger rural women from the middle and low strata who most clearly stated the possibility of simultaneously caring for children and undertaking paid work. They thought that a woman could decide for herself about this, and furthermore they questioned whether in practical terms they had the option not to work for pay, as their husbands' salaries were insufficient to cover their basic needs and government support was very limited. This indicates the beginning of a social critique of the value assigned to motherhood. A younger woman in the low stratum commented: "I think that to work [for a wage] has become a necessity, and definitely you have to get someone else to look after the children . . . in any event you have to have a little time for them, even if it's only five or ten minutes. . ." "With the salary my husband gets and the amount he contributes to the household, I don't have any alternative other than to earn a few cents [or] we would be even poorer." The contradiction between the abstract ideal of motherhood and the reality of the situations in which they must undertake this role presents a real conflict between ideology and reality. Those who continued to give their undivided support to the old concept of motherhood did so in thoroughly uncritical and very general terms: "It's nice," "it's the best," "it's destiny."

The women were unanimous that a mother could not be replaced when it came to rearing children. Therefore, women who work outside the household assumed the customary division of work and responsibilities within the household would continue. In practical terms, this meant that they worked much longer hours every day than their partners, who only participated in domestic work - in the few cases when they did it at all - in a very marginal way. This applied to almost all the women. Their time was used more intensively, too, as they did various things simultaneously.

Domestic Work

Indeed, one of the most difficult aspects of women's studies is how to define and measure women's work. Conventionally, work is defined as activities for which a wage is received, but this underestimates the participation of women in many areas. Even women's own perceptions of what they do is affected. The study sought to establish how women saw their work, and how their companions perceived it, in order to arrive at a female definition and assessment of household activities. An analysis of the urban women's responses on this topic showed that, regardless of cohort or stratum, they saw their domestic work as productive activity, but they also accepted the gender-based distribution of these tasks. They considered that household chores in general and child care in particular were their responsibility. This could not be delegated "because kids will suffer a lot." Similarly, housework remained the mother's duty even if she had to work outside the house or help the husband to produce the family income.

With few exceptions, the urban women declared that their domestic activities were indeed work, because "one gets tired and exhausted" or "it is quite heavy." They had obligations that must be carried out, "but because we do not receive a salary it is said that it is not work." However, they had yet to resolve the contradiction inherent in their central responsibility for the household and their role in generating family income. The men did not contribute real help in the household in spite of women's increasing work outside it, and whatever their expressed attitudes, in practice the women did not question the power structure implicit in their double burden of paid and domestic labour. Although their heavy workload would have been eased if their husbands participated in domestic work, the women often reinforced the men's lack of involvement.

How women saw their role influenced the way they perceived their remunerated work. Even for the younger women who expressed a greater degree of equality and shared authority, maternal responsibility took precedence over other personal matters, regardless of the mother's ability and situation. Although they considered their remunerated work as important as men's, women said that they would not advise their daughters to work while they had small children, showing that they accepted the constraints maternal responsibilities imposed on women's lives. This ambiguity can be understood better in the light of their daily experience, as indicated by the time-allocation study.

The rural women were asked to enumerate all the activities in which they had invested their time during the year prior to the study. All except one had participated in domestic work, mostly in combination with remunerated activities. A sizeable group in the lower and middle strata had undertaken more than one paid activity in addition to housework. Yet the great majority considered their principal activity to have been domestic work, regardless of the number or intensity of their remunerated activities. About one-quarter of the respondents, among whom the older women predominated, perceived their domestic tasks as work because they were heavy and consumed a significant part of their time and energy.

It was obvious that some of the women had devoted considerable and careful thought to this topic. They were quite clear on a number of major points: domestic work was exhausting and laborious because "women don't stop all day long," "women work like slaves every day with very little help from members of the family," and "it is very hard work although men say that it's not work." "Domestic work is a thankless task because it's invisible, while the work that men do is more recognized." "Domestic work isn't seen, although other kinds of work are." "Work is only considered to be what men do." Domestic work is unpaid, "although if you do it in somebody else's house they pay you for it." Other comments along this line included: "It's not worth five cents," "nobody pays for it," and "it is not lucrative." One woman even said that " I would like them to pay me for it, because since it is not remunerated it makes me dependent. Housework consists of multiple activities while men do one thing at a time. It is intensive because it includes not only work in the household but also other responsibilities such as taking care of the animals."

Those who expressed their understanding of the implications of domestic work with the greatest clarity belonged to the upper stratum. Within this group, all the older women who compared their work with what their spouses did reached the conclusion that women worked harder and more intensively than men. This was in fact corroborated later by the time-use study. They declared that women's work was harder because it was continuous and because women run "from one side to the other without stopping, always busy and always rushing." Men, on the other hand, were less pressured because "they leave, they do their jobs and they can relax on the weekends."

Those who suffered most from their heavy workloads were women with few economic resources, who said that poverty made their situation more difficult because when there was very little money they had to take on extra work.

Although most of the rural women had begun to analyse their domestic work situation, they did not yet have a clear idea of how to confront the established division of labour and they tended to accept it somewhat passively: "Although this work is unbelievably hard and you don't act anything out of it, you have to have patience." A young woman from the low stratum explained this resignation when she said that, despite everything, "one has to eat and I don't have any choice." There was an element of self-defence in the women's lack of will to confront this situation. It was particularly apparent in the insecurity of some of them who were bound to a spouse whom they did not fully trust. It meant that some of the women in the lower and middle strata accepted the established order unthinkingly and submissively, but in such a way that they did not have to assume a double workload. "If the woman works [for a wage], the man becomes irresponsible"; "the woman does her job in the home and the man will look after getting what's needed for the shopping." Yet there was also an ambiguity which indicated deep-seated uncertainties about this arrangement, even among the young women from the lower stratum who accepted it: "They are responsible for the woman and should make her respect him"; "if the woman goes out to work, she leaves the home and the housework." Comments like these show the complexity of their perception of the "ideal woman. " In fact, almost all these women engaged in some kind of income-generating activity. However, they continued to accept the gender-based division of labour in the domestic sphere and all this entailed.

In the urban area a time budget covering one day of the week and the weekend was analysed by cohort, stratum, and family characteristics. The information was obtained from close observation of ten women and their partners. The survey was limited to women who spent part of the day at home (a number of whom did both domestic and remunerated work), as it was very difficult to interview those employed in waged work outside the home.

The survey revealed four important characteristics. First, women from the middle and lower strata who lived with a partner had a longer working day than the men did. Usually they got up half an hour earlier to get breakfast for the family, and in some cases they also went to bed later at night. Second, the women who did both domestic and remunerated work in their homes tended to integrate the tasks without clearly identifying the time specifically devoted to either category. This implies more exhausting working periods. Moreover, the women regarded much of their remunerated work as marginal; in spite of these activities, they defined themselves as housewives.

Third, the younger women appeared to organize their domestic work more efficiently. Their working periods were as long as those of the older women, but most of them had small children to look after. Even so, the majority also undertook work. Older women from the middle and low strata were more confined to the house than the others, perhaps because they had less technical and domestic support than those in the upper stratum. The households in the low stratum were in the poorest areas of the city, which had less access to public services. Some of them lacked running water, and cooking was done with gasoline or similar fuel which was not only dangerous but more time-consuming.

Fourth, the employed women concentrated a significant part of their domestic work into their weekends, although their working periods were shorter at weekends and they had some leisure time. Figures 2 and 3 illustrate the time allocation of two urban women from different age cohorts and income strata and corroborate what the surveys found: that urban women involved in remunerated activity also carried out the housework without help from their partners, although women in the upper stratum engaged a domestic servant to help them.

The survey of the rural women's use of time covered all their activities in the course of a week. This longer time-span was necessary in order to capture their main productive and domestic activities. Even though some tasks like cooking, child care, tidying, and so on had to be done daily, others like weeding, marketing, washing, and ironing might be undertaken less frequently because of the nature of rural activities. The reconstruction of the week's time allocation took both unpaid domestic work and productive labour (whether remunerated or not) into account, and included the activities of both husband and wife. In this sense the household was seen as a working unit within which tasks were distributed.

The results indicated the importance of domestic activities for the survival of the family. The majority of the women had the direct responsibility for these activities, though a few were only helpers in the home, and one woman, a single mother who lived with her parents and had outside waged work, did not do household work. The allocation of time varied somewhat by cohort. All the younger women were responsible for domestic work, except two who did not live with a partner: one helped her family and the other did not participate in domestic work. Not all the older women were responsible for domestic duties; those who were separated, like the younger women in this group, only worked as helpers, unless they had no daughters. Figures 4 and 5 illustrate two examples of time allocation among rural women.

Domestic work occupied much more of the time of the younger women, not only because they had young children who demanded more attention, but also because their children were not yet old enough to help with their work. The participation of spouses in domestic work varied significantly by cohort. It was found that although the responsibilities assumed by men bringing fuel, carrying water, marketing - were quite similar across cohorts, many more of the younger men helped with these activities. It may be that the children of older couples had reached an age at which they assumed some of the domestic labour not only of the housewife, but also of the husband. It is also possible, however, that the contribution of men is increasing. One younger man cared for the children, and another took charge of lunch on the day that the wife did the shopping. Both were thus undertaking tasks that men traditionally did not do.

Fig. 2. Time budgeting, urban old women (middle stratum) (has five children, one two years old; husband is ill, doesn't work).

Fig. 3. Time budgeting. urban young women (high stratum) (separated, has two children, lives with friends).

Strictly speaking only three women in the rural subsample could be classified as housewives in the sense that they were engaged only in reproductive and unremunerated activities. All the others were also involved in income-generating work, and more than half took on two or three jobs to earn money for themselves or their families. All the latter, with one exception, also continued to bear the primary responsibility for domestic work. These women were mostly engaged in agricultural labour like cultivating the family garden or feeding animals, but some had small businesses like broom-making and knitting and sewing, while a third group tended a family store or acted as intermediares in the sale of coffee and cattle. There were also some who received a wage for domestic work done in other homes. Thus the range of their activities was quite wide, although most of them took place in the context of the household. The husbands had only one remunerated activity, with the exception of four who cultivated their land and also had another job.

The rural women worked very intensively. The time budget shows how they combined domestic and remunerated work in such a way that they accomplished very different tasks simultaneously. The nature of their non-domestic work, most of which was carried out in the vicinity of the home, was not conducive to schedules that distinguished between productive behaviour, domestic work, and leisure. The women had to use their time in somewhat arbitrary ways which depended on what else the family required of them. Without exception, unless they had waged work outside the home, their domestic responsibilities determined how they apportioned the rest of their time. The demands of productive work were subordinated to domestic requirements even when the women contributed a significant part of the family income. The husbands of the rural women also spent long hours in paid work. However, given their marginal participation in domestic work, and the nature of their employment, they did not face the same competing demands on their time.

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