Gender Roles in Economics

There is a significant gendered division of labor in terms of rural living in most Zapotec communities. Agricultural labor is done predominantly by men, although women and children do significant work at planting and harvesting time, and if no men are available, women may go to the fields to supervise plowing. Care of larger farm animals such as cows, oxen, and horses is done by men and boys. Women take care of pigs, chickens, ducks, and smaller domestic animals. Both men and women engage in commerce of all kinds. In communities where there is a specific form of craft production, the division of labor may vary. In weaving communities, both men and women now weave, and even in embroidery-producing communities men and women have each developed separate products.

Women and girls are usually in charge of house-cleaning, washing clothes, shopping for food, and food preparation. Men generally sweep yards and sometimes inside the house, carry water, and may be responsible for firewood. As men and women have migrated to Mexico City and elsewhere both alone and together, this division of labor has changed somewhat.

Both men and women can inherit all kinds of property. Because of past traditions of patrilocality, sons are still favored in the inheritance of house plots, farmland, and houses themselves. If there are few or no sons, women may also receive a share of land. Increasingly, as young men leave, women may inherit land and houses if their brothers migrate and they remain behind to care for their parents.

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