DURANGO, DGO.-Migration as it seems is a phenomenon that for generations had been kept in the men’s domain, and after almost 40 years it has acquired a women face. From a 100 people who emigrate 44 are women.
The so called “weak sex”, besides the role as a housekeeper, is also a person with a career, a partner and in many cases the only family support; the last aspect playing an important role in the migration theme.
Esther Aldaba, from Peñon Blanco Dgo.; a good day decided not to work with the events hall owner for the amount of 300 pesos per week; and guided by her family members decided to try her luck on the other side of the river. On December 10th of 2004, she said goodbye to her parents and his only son taking the most dangerous path in her life: crossing the frontier to the United States to get to San Antonio, Tx.
“I went with so much fear, that I didn’t know what might happen, I only wanted to get there and know that I reached my goal” said Aldaba.
Now, almost 6 years later in her homeland, since she was deported, said ready to embark a little business to support her and help out her son and parents.
For Caroline Brettell Professor of the Department of Anthropology of South Western Methodist University, (SMU), in the flows of migration, the majority are women, but these vary according to the origin of the population; their performance -in many cases- are as domestic workers and factories.
“As a start women migrate following their husbands, but are also pushed by the need of work.” When migration starts, the family often thinks that this is temporary, and that in a short time she or he’ll return. “Inevitably this will extend the stay, and then the couple might discuss the union for the rest of the family,” said Brettell.
The academic added that since September 11TH of 2001, the situation for undocumented people changed; and added, ” in prosperous times like the 90 ‘ s no one was watching; the service sector expanded and employers required workers and found them in the immigrants population, now with the fractured economy, some people without jobs say that they could do this work, but could these unemployed persons be at that pay level?” said Brettell.
The efforts and sacrifices made by the migrant women have also shown the reason and courage by preserving the essence of their roots.
“When you leave your family, land, feelings, and we are full of dreams and hopes to find a better life, we never forget from where we come from and what are parents taught us”, marked Aldaba.
Aydeé Maricarmen González Alvarado, General Director of the Institute for Women in Durango, asserted that the role of women in migration has been important.
“While Durango is a State with a very macho culture, and where migration has always been the men´s decision, today we find populations with almost fifty percent of women who have also done it, either to reach their partners or that by an individual manner have come for priority economic needs”, said the functionary.
Gabriela Sánchez Garza, anthropologist and Director of the Museum of Popular Cultures of Durango, explained that migration in any form has always existed, either by wars, forced or by taste, and that forces people to leave their place of origin. In Durango, said Sánchez Garza, migration occurs towards the interior and exterior.
“People migrate to follow the American dream, obtain comfort, and on the other hand the need for work, to send money to their family,” said the anthropologist.
She pointed out that there are very definite characters in the process of internal migration in the specific case of migrant women, also said that migration between various ethnic groups in this state, amen of those who manage to go outside the country the poverty is very remarkable; “among the poor, the most needed are women”, and added “there are certainly a number of indigenous women who are migrating to Durango in frankly deplorable situations as employees in the best of cases in any shop or as domestic workers, not even winning the minimum laid down by law, in most cases without any kind of benefit”, said Sánchez Garza.
According to the National Council of Population (CONAPO), points 2.4 million Mexican women are integrated in the productive sector of the EU, in activities such as cleaning, agriculture and food; in consequence to their lack of academic preparation and their vulnerable situation lacking of legal documents.
According to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), this percentage of women face an increase on the poverty status, for almost a third of the total is poor. According to this study, there live near 5.3 million Mexican women, with or without documents.
The study adds that 60 percent of that Mexican total is older than 24 years which have not completed upper secondary education and only 7 percent of Mexicans in the United States have University education.
Followed by Illinois, Arizona, Georgia, New York, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Washington, where the largest concentration of migrant women is, are California and Texas.
Isabel Carrasco, native from Zarca Durango, resident of Barrio El Sereno in Los Angeles, California, came to the United States in 1964, and since then, said her life has been just work.
“When the woman takes the decision to migrate and undertake the journey to cross the border without documents, is more susceptible to suffer any damage or even lose her life in the attempt, so those who think trying should put it in balance and think twice”, said Carrasco.
Carrasco who crossed the border without documents said that the hardest of living in the United States, is to learn English, and stay alert: “without legal documents I have to be very careful when I go out because I fear being detained by the Immigration Service”, said Carrasco.
Isabel said that in her woman condition she had been once a discrimination victim, but in general terms said, kept pace with any man to develop a labor in that country.
Diana Ocón Alvarado, former President of the Association of Women Promoters Chapter Durango, (AMMJE), noted that “Durango is a conservative and traditionalist city and that women do not have much say to win”, and added, “Although women migrating has been seen little in Durango said, “it is disturbing the effort of how many of them have to emigrate to the United States in search of a better life”, noted Ocón.”
Ocón explained, that the group she represents is very receptive to bring support to women who had to return to their homeland and added that the doors in this organization are open and bring out help for those who want to preserve their small patrimony and invest to keep going forward with counseling for their own business.
By Ángel Peimberth