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The slow empowerment of peasant women in the Andes of Peru



Andahuaylas (Peru), Jul 14 (EFE).- Gisela is the only woman in the group who wears jeans and not the typical embroidered and colorful skirt. In full harvest in a potato field in the Peruvian community of Huayana, this young woman is pleased that the role of women, who have traditionally always been behind men, is changing.

“The women tell me that the man spoke for them, their opinion did not count and the decision they made did not count either. But this is changing, little by little the woman is empowering herself and is taking important roles in each situation,” she said. to Efe, hopeful Gisela Ubaqui, 21 years old.

He studies environmental engineering in Andahuaylas, a small city in the department of Apurímac, with the purpose of learning and thus promoting the family agricultural business.

But next to her, two women barely 10 years older than her did not have the same luck, one of them said that she could not study because her older brother did and there was no more economic capacity in her house, and the other young woman recognized that she is the one in charge of taking care of her parents who are elderly.

“Little by little, women are gaining access to more education, which until a few years ago was intended only for men, due to the legacy of the hacienda systems,” environmental engineer Javier Llacsa told Efe.

The expert is responsible for the Agrobiodiversity project that protects Important Systems of the World Agricultural Heritage (Sipam), articulated by the Peruvian Ministries of Environment and Agrarian Development and Irrigation, FAO and Profonanpe, Peru’s private environmental fund.

This traditional lack of access to education has led to fewer women occupying representative positions.


Beyond the relationship of women with sacred elements such as seeds or the relationship between water and fertility, the role of women under the Andean tradition is understood only as a couple with men.

“There is an ancestral complementarity, the man is not complete without the woman and the woman is not complete without the man,” explained Llacsa, indicating that in these high Andean communities traditionally the man was in charge of the field and the woman of raising the children. children and animals, and usually finances as well.

“Generally we work in pairs, that does not mean that women do not have participation or that we are excluded, but rather that we still maintain that perhaps nervousness of what they will say,” said the facilitator of the peasant communities with the project Agrodiversity, Ana Sierra.

Sierra observes in her day to day how women continue to be one step behind their husbands and affirms that one of the barriers to break down to empower women is embarrassment or shyness when it comes to expressing themselves, which is caused by a prior lack of education.

Despite their traditional roles, the facilitator explained that women, when working with their husbands, also have the same knowledge about crops and highlighted that it is women who are increasingly trying to find ways to increase economic benefits and undertake new projects. for family businesses.

In the towns of the Peruvian Andes it is possible to appreciate that while men can wear soccer and sports team jerseys, the appearance of Andean women seems frozen in time.

They wear long black hair always tied in braids, a black hat, a blanket on their backs in which they carry both babies and agricultural products, and several layers of colorful clothing to protect them from the cold, which contrasts with their bare legs. and they usually wear ballerinas or leather sandals.


But this panorama is slowly changing, largely due to the influence that these communities have with the outside world and the access of the youngest to social networks.

“I see women leaving the traditional scheme every year, and I think, she is not submissive like her mother,” acknowledged Ubaqui, very active on Instagram.

A subject that is still taboo, but that little by little and thanks to this progressive empowerment is coming to light is the physical abuse of women, “less and less is kept quiet,” Sierra said, since traditionally it was something that they endured in the silence of their homes.

“In this new order, the communities are no longer autonomous, they have external influence, whether from the local government, from institutions, and external cultural pressure proposes another scenario that marks these gender differences,” Llacsa said.

These pressures are opening doors, but the expert stressed the importance of addressing the gender issue with cultural relevance, that is, empowering and promoting women, but taking into account the context and traditions of these communities.

“Motivation in girls, adolescents and also adults is fundamental. Motivational talks rarely reach peasant communities, so I would ask for more talks, more dialogues,” Gisela rightly demanded in relation to the importance of voices reaching believe minors in their abilities.

Paula Bayarte

(c) EFE Agency




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