During my stay in Santa Catarina Masahuat, my host family owned a dairy farm, with 12 cows, providing their income. My host father tended to the cows, milking them and bringing milk home every morning for my host mother to cook down into a soft, salty cheese. She, and many other female family members then went on to sell the cheese, out around in the town and also inside the house during the day.
Alongside this, whilst my host father was at work, my host mother attended other duties around the house, cleaning, washing clothes, making food for any number of people who happened to be there at dinner time. She looked exhausted every day, but this is the life of pretty much every woman in Santa Catarina. Men went to work on farms, in the city and the women stayed at home, keeping an eye on the kids and cooking.
This idea of such entrenched gender roles is something that we haven’t seen in the UK for years and years, we have had such a rollercoaster to get to the position we stand in, in regards to women’s rights and gender roles, and we’ve still got a long way to go.
My time in El Salvador really helped me to see how far the UK has come in terms of gender roles, and also how seemingly content the women were. They know no other way of life and maybe the prospect of change for them is a scary one?
Written by ICS Alumni Izzy Shohet (January - March 2016 cycle, Santa Catarina Masahuat, El Salvador)