UNM offers an exclusive opportunity for many scholars, including myself, to broaden our studies in very unique ways: We are able to study Quechua or K’iche’ Maya.
These two indigenous languages—found in the Andean region and Central America respectively—provide a special opportunity for students to deepen their understanding of world languages and distinctive world views in Latin America. Language learning provides students with new perspectives and a window into diverse world views. Each language has a unique perspective of how to relate to the world, demonstrated through distinctive syntax. How sentences are structured, the emphasis given to certain words and phrases, and the roots of vocabulary all provide clues to how its speakers interact with the world around them.
As I sat in our Quechua Class, taught by Yuliana Kenfield, I gradually gained more and more introspection into the lives lead by quechuahablantes (Quechua speakers). Through personal anecdotes from Kenfield’s life experiences, specially formulated class projects, and using the text Kasway Vida, our understanding of Quechua and its perspective on the world grew exponentially.
Beds are hot; I understand why no one uses them here – hammocks allow the wind to find you, and for the sweat to dry as quick and gentle as it rises through the skin. They sell hammocks of all sorts and sizes: for two, for one, for infants, for the elderly, indoor, outdoor, for travel, for home. For now, until I find an apartment, I’ll have to make do with this hotel room. I could hardly sleep. The muggy heat leaked through cracks in the broken air conditioner, mounted high on the wall with loose screws, rattling as the condenser bucked and whistled with the first of the waking grackles.
The streets of the Cheguigu neighborhood are weightless at this hour. A blue-grey as deep as the ocean and as silent as a blade of grass washes over everything. Not until noon will they begin baking off their dust. For now, last night’s discarded mango peels are moist and unwrinkled in the gutters. Crows stand still behind a veil of dew in the Cacalosúchil trees. The tire-flattened lizards, and their last efforts to blend in with the grey pavement, are barely visible among the loose gravel and debris until you step on them. At this hour, the middles of the roads are for walking. At the cross streets in the flattening distance, the meandering shadows of street dogs hunch towards the marketplace, punctuated only by a drunk staggering, or the faint squeal of rusted pushcart spokes.
What changes for women when they are married? Do they work more or less? Do they earn more? What activities do women spend their time participating in once married? Determining whether being married helps Mexican women or hurts them economically is necessary because women’s wellbeing is frequently overlooked when scholars address economic development. If women can earn more married, then perhaps they are better off married. If women earn more single, perhaps staying single is key in women’s development. On the other hand, women must spend more time working in the home once they are married, reducing the number of hours available for them to work outside the home. If they cannot work as much as their unmarried counterparts, do they have as much opportunity to develop? Regardless of earning power, women forfeit their opportunities in the workplace when they marry because they take on the responsibilities of caring for the house and children. By closely examining the impact that frequently cited factors have on women’s development in juxtaposition with the impact marital status has, this project sheds new light on the importance of marriage for women in Mexico, and may open the door for future research in women’s economic development in other regions of the world.
In general, results suggest that women in Mexico are more likely to work if they are not married. In fact, unmarried women reported working more and making less, regardless of their head of the household status. Unmarried women who are not the heads of the household belong to households that enjoy the greatest annual income. Since these households also consume the most, it is reasonable to conclude that this could be a result of household size and more shared incomes. Unmarried women who are heads of their households consume the least and experience the lowest annual income. Married women, whether they are head of the household or not, enjoy annual incomes that fall between unmarried women’s incomes. They consume more than unmarried heads of households and less than unmarried women who are not heads of households. The results suggests that women who marry work less outside the home but more inside the home while still experiencing a greater annual income than they would if they were unmarried and the heads of their households.