Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Women are better than men at...

I just played two awesome games of  co-ed volleyball and soccer with a group of visiting highschool students from the island of Utila, here at a the Hacienda El Jaral hotel/resort where I am enjoying an overnight stay.  I am  participating in a  2 day workshop on citizen participation and influencing decision makers ( "learning to lobby" doesn't quite translate to "incidencia politica" but that is a close approximation without the negative associations...).  The workshop is interesting, but the two games of competitive rec sports, in bare feet, on lush green grass really made my day.   Adding to my entertainment were the fellow players'  unique accents: a really interesting mix of Carribean English, with a few Spanish words thrown in for good measure. When they needed me to understand what they were saying they'd switch over to an American-ish accent for my benefit.  Great all round entertainment!

The co-ed nature of ths game was pretty special too, as that is really rare here.  It's almost always boys or men playing, and girls watching or texting on their cell phones on the side.  Gender considerations are big here.  All of my current/future projects have gender as a transversal theme and last week I had the opportunity to observe and assist with half-day gender and empowerment workshop in a nearby pueblo (small town/village).  My employers have some baseline data for these areas on attitudes and knowledge about health, sanitation, nutrition and food security.  One finding is that 65% of the women have to ask for permission from their husbands if they want to see a doctor. Most of them have to ask permission to visit a female friend. Most of them always eat last, and save the protein for their husbands and children (in that order), even if they are doing agricultural labour, are pregnant and are breastfeeding...all at once.  Consequently, gender equity is recognized as an important part of the Honduran development landscape.

I have translated one of the exercises from the gender workshop below.  We answered 20 true and false questions.*.  I invite you to take the test!   Not surprisingly, this Canadian girl with  university courses in the anthropology of gender under her feminist belt scored way high on the gender equity side of things. I admit, I did answer that  women are better at taking care of small babies, but I thought that milk filled breasts really give us the upper hand at this one.  My high equity score gave the facilitator a chance to contrast my upbringing, and my societal learnings, with those of rural Honduras.  "You are born with a penis or a vulva, but your gender is a learned thing, and a role you take on." (direct translation...don't get on my case about M/F not being the only sexes...I know, I know, but rural Honduras just ain't ready for that yet!).

Here you go, True or False?

1.     Los bebés necesitan más de la cercanía de la madre que la del padre_____. (Babies need more care from the mother than the father.)

2.    Las mujeres son mejores para la crianza de los hijos, debido a su instinto maternal______. (Women are better at caring for their children, because of their maternal instinct).

3.    Los hombres son más racionales que las mujeres y las mujeres más afectivas que los hombres______. ( Men are more rational than women and women are more affectionate than men.)

4.    La mayor responsabilidad económica del hogar, debe recaer en el hombre_____. (Most of the economic responsibility for the household should fall on the man.) 

5.    El hombre no puede dar el cuidado adecuado a un bebé______. (Men can't take care of babies adequately.)

6.    Una mujer puede realizarse plenamente sin tener hijos/as______ (A woman can reach her full potential without having children).

7.    El trabajo domestico debe tener un reconocimiento económico______. ( Domestic work should be recongnized economically/financially).

8.    Las mujeres son más pacificas que los hombres_______. (Women are more passive than men)

9.    Las mujeres faltan más que los hombres a los trabajos, debido a enfermedades y malestares propios de ellas.___________ ( Women miss more work than men, becuase of sicknesses, and women's illnesses).

10. Los hombres son más capaces y tienen mayor credibilidad que las mujeres en los momentos de negociación_______. (Men are more capable of having greater credibility than women in negotiations).

11.  Los hombres son mejores que las mujeres desempeñando funciones que impliquen responsabilidad y toma de decisiones_____. (Men are better than women in roles that require responsibility and decision making.)

12. Los hombres deben representar a la familia a la hora de tomar decisiones sobre el hogar______. (Men should represent the family when making decisions for the household).

13. Las mujeres con hijos pequeños no deben participar en actividades de la comunidad, fuera del hogar_______. (Women with small children should not participate in community activities outside of the home).

14. Las mujeres no saben manejar adecuadamente el poder_______. (Women do not know how to adequately manage power).
15. Los hombres deben realizar todas las tareas agrícolas______. (Men should do all the agricultural tasks).

16. La Junta Directiva de la Cooperativa debe estar integrada por hombres y mujeres de forma igualitaria_______. (The Board of Directors of the Cooperative should be made up of men and women with equal power in their roles).

17. Los hombres por su naturaleza son mejores líderes_______. (Men are naturally better leaders).

18. En el hogar la madre es la figura más importante para cuidar a los hijos_____. (In the home the mother is the most important figure for taking care of the children).

19. La mujer debe ser indicada para consolar a los pequeños y pequeñas u otras personas cuando están tristes o enfermas______. (The woman should console small children and other people when they are sad or sick).

20.Una organización cafetalera debe estar conformada por mayor cantidad de hombres que de mujeres_______. (An organization for coffee production  should be made up of more men than women).

*Not everyone could read, so the other facilitator worked with people individually to get this thing filled out.  It was weird for me to be more proficient in this aspect of Spanish than all these native speakers.  My privileged life of ease and education was again highlighted for me. 

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