From the Marcala Team:
In the UK we hear stories and read case studies about the unequal treatment of men and women in the workplace. We look at the facts and see that men commonly hold higher paid positions than women and women in the UK are paid on average 25% less than their male counterpart for the same position. In Honduras the inequality between men and women largely disadvantages women and gives way to structural violence, stretching far beyond the issue of a 25% wage gap; ‘men are taught to believe from an early age that women are their property, that her body is their right, women they know and women they don’t, women who are Honduran and women from overseas’ says Zoila Madrid a Professor in Social Work and Gender Inequality from the National University of Honduras.
This prejudice has sparked a feminist movement in Central America, where women understand their values, rights and the treatment they deserve. This current problem has been identified as a combination of patriarchy and capitalism; the latter promotes inequality between social classes and the former promotes the idea that men are of a higher social class then women. The patriarchal structure of gender that arose in Latino communities caused the feminist movements to term this male aggression as ‘machismo’, a combination of sexism and chauvinism at its worst. The case study below shows the changing culture of a woman’s worth and her life as a single mother.
Name: Marcela Maldonado
Daughter’s Age: 5
Marcela’s story is one of courage and strength. After becoming a victim of domestic violence in her 7th month of pregnancy, Marcela found it in her to leave her husband. However, this is not the case for most women in Honduras. Most women remain in abusive relationships due to the ‘machismo’ culture of their society. 5 years on and Marcela hasn’t seen or heard of her now ex-husband since their split. This is another aspect of Honduran society as it is not uncommon for men to leave their responsibilities of fatherhood.
Another interesting point in Marcela’s story is the fact that her mother was also a single parent. Growing up in a single parent family taught Marcela the values of strength and courage in becoming a person, as well as a woman. It also showed her that just because you’re a single mother it doesn’t mean that you can’t provide the best life possible for your child.
Another shocking point from our interview with Marcela was that there are no support systems for single mothers by the government here in Honduras. The only support Marcela gets is from her mother. However from talking to her it was apparent that she took every responsibility that came with being a parent and does everything she can to make ends meet. This story of bravery should be told to women all over the world, especially in the male dominated, Honduran society. From everyone in the Marcala team, we wish you and your daughter the best luck in your future.
From the La Esperanza team:
Another factor that has stemmed from gender inequality is domestic violence. The lack of middle ground feminist/ human rights groups alongside a negligent government has led to a large number of single parents mostly women, as well as some of the largest numbers of rape and murder cases in the world. Femicides in Honduras are the second highest cause of death for women, this refers to the unjustified killing of women for no other reason than they are just women. Shockingly, only one in five cases of femicide cases are scrutinised, this perhaps is due to corruption in high places such as the Honduran government and the lack of prosecution and investigation from the police force.
It is evident that absolute power corrupts absolutely and it is vital to promote gender equality through education so that men and women know their rights and can both contribute to nurture a safer and improved society.
Marcala team blog by Wumi Nuga and Carol-Anne O'Kane. La Esperanza team blog by Mary Macauley