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Andrea Proa帽o Calder贸n May 14, 2012



Halfway Revolution

ender is one of the great debates of our time, and I think that´s a good thing!” Santiago Castellanos, PhD in Cultural and Interdisciplinary Studies, exclaims excitedly. According to him, a new gender perspective has begun to gain ground in the public and private spaces and in the media, something that “10 years ago was unthinkable.” The conceptions about the traditional roles of women are beginning to break, especially at generational and class levels, since people within those circles are the most exposed to the discourses of globalization. “Women, especially those belonging to middle and upper middle classes, begin to realize that getting married and having children is not an obligation, that marriage is an option, but not the only one ... And that there are different ways to be happy,” Castellanos affirms. For Daniela Guarderas, 23, Arbitration Phase Assistant at the Arbitration Center of the Chamber of Commerce of Quito, the roles of women are changing. “Their expectations are no longer directed uniquely towards the family aspect but towards advancing professionally, which to my way of thinking is more satisfying,” she says. As new concepts being to emerge surrounding the possibilities and responsibilities of women, could gender roles in Ecuador be changing?

Women in education

The 2010 Census showed that 94% of men are literate compared to 91% of women and that, on average, the latter complete one year less of schooling– 8 in total. It also showed that the presence of men is higher in all education

ranges, except at the secondary and post-secondary levels. It is at these stages where, between 2005 and 2009, access to scholarships and educational loans was given out mostly to women, although science and technology scholarships remained men’s field. Although in 2006 the percentage of women who dropped out of school (22.84%) was still higher than that of men, during the last census more women than men said they were attending a regular education establishment. The presence of women in higher education should be underscored precisely because “statistics tell us that with time, there are more and more women enrolled in college than men, more women who complete their careers, more women who choose to complete their career before having a family,” says Maria Amelia Viteri, MA in Gender Studies an PhD in Cultural Anthropology. However, this does not result in equal representation within the different professional branches. “Women continue to pursue careers associated with their traditional roles of giving birth and becoming care givers,” she says. This is reflected in the 2010 Census statistics regarding postsecondary, superior or graduate cycle certificates. According to this heading, nursing, education, social work and psychology are almost exclusively domain of women. The same happens in careers related to creativity and the use of language, such as design, public relations, journalism, and communication. The fields in which the gap between men and women is almost nonexistent are university and higher education teaching, as well as the social sciences. Regardless of the area they are involved in, “statistically female students are better than male students,” says Castellanos. But – “What happens when they graduate and go to work?

Gender Division by Career Mostly Men -Engineering -Technology -General Medicine -Veterinary -Technicians -Programming -Lawyers -Economy -Movie Directors

Mostly Women -Nurses/Midwives -Alternative Medicine -Pharmatical/Laboratory -Nutritionistas/Dietists -Public Relations/Marketing -Journalism/Comunication -Psychology -Education -Administration

Both -Optometry -Professors -Management/design for web/multimedia -Sociology -Anthropology -Philosophy -History -Acting Source: Census 2010

Tania Sánchez: mother, wife, Multimedia Journalism student at USFQ and journalist at FM Mundo. Experts such as Santiago Castellanos and Amelia Viteri claim women in the middle and upper classes are, more than ever, less prone to abandon their studies, even if they have children along the way. Nevertheless, they are still monopolizing careers where they can perform roles linked to their condition as women, such as communication.

Statistically men earn more than women,” he continues. “Does that mean that women are less capable? No, it means that the working world is privileging men,” he concludes.

Women in the workforce

Most experts in gender studies agree with this thesis. For Viteri, institutions “can pay them less because they know that these women are highly motivated to succeed.” Statistics published by the Social and Economic Indicators Integrated System (SEIIS) display the following information on the average income of women compared to men in 2010: $ 274 vs. $ 351. Besides wage discrimination, women face discrimination based on gender roles. María del Pilar Troya, Master in Gender and advisor to the Secretary General of the SENESCYT (National Secretariat for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, by its acronym in Spanish), La iniciativa ¨Cartas de mujeres¨, lanzada el 25 de noviembre de 2011, buscó combatir y erradicar todo tipo de violencia contra la mujer. Se organizaron talleres en varias provincias del país en los que se presentó a la discriminación por género como una forma de violencia. El cierre de campaña fue el 8 de marzo del presente año, con motivo de la celebración del Día Internacional de la Mujer.

explains that when selecting an employee, institutions dismiss women because they have the preconceived idea that they will become pregnant. “That is why it is men who always get the jobs, as if they didn´t have wives and children that require the same commitment,” she observes. By doing so, “they are discriminating against their own daughters, wives and so on,” she says. Additionally, the gender barrier is presented in the socalled glass ceiling, which refers to difficulties to ascend. “There are positions that you have no access to simply because you are a woman”, says Viteri. Juan Carlos Mejía, Director of the Center of Arbitration of the Chamber of Commerce of Quito, confirms that there are “very few executive positions for women because most companies are family-managed under the command of a patriarch.” Exceptions arise when the woman comes from a wealthy family background in which she is able to access those positions. “In a chauvinist structure it is difficult to put a woman in charge”, affirms Mejía. SEIIS data show that even in the public sector the percentage of women in higher ranks is lower by almost half to that of men. According to the Time Use Survey (TUS), published in 2007 by CONAMU (National Women Council, by its acronym in Spanish), the Social Equality Index (SEI) – which measures the disparity between men and women to access the same social conditions and positions – is

24.6% This means that between the social position of women and that of men there is a 73.4% point of difference. Soledad Puente, Team Coordinator at the Transition Commission (former CONAMU), considers that it is not only about the discrimination that prevents access to the

Sonia Coral takes care of an older person with Down Syndrome Monday through Saturday, from 9am to 6:30pm. Presence of women in the public sphere is still associated with traditional fields of caregiving and maternity.

same job with equal opportunities, but also the one that deprives women of reaching full equality. This means that not only should access be ensured, but also “the full exercise of their rights on the job in question, such as the right to health; protection; training; equal remuneration; the assessment of their unpaid time; participation in the political decision-making process, among others,” she explains. The presence of women in the workplace is still precarious. Until 2009, only 46% of women had an employment contract, compared to 58% of men.

Fuente: SIISE

Labor Statistics by Gender









Social Security



Employment Contract


58% Source: SIISE

Michelle Artieda, Manager at GiroCiudadano Consultants, affirms that besides all facets of discrimination in the workplace, resistance and social stigma against a woman who has carved a successful path in her professional life persist. “When I began to advance professionally, most people told me – more than once – ‘it’s probably because you do things with someone’,” she recalls, referring to the implication that she had exchanged sexual favors for advancing professionally. “Then, when the character is already defined as that of a strong, direct, cold and calculating woman, thereafter you are a ‘witch, bitch, calculating, damn, heartless woman...’” she says. She believes that “to get far women have a lot to prove, especially in the workplace where competition is brutal.” Mónica Heller faced endless conflicts generated by resistance to her professional success, both in her immediate family context as well as in the workplace. This forced her to forge a strong character: “If you are not firmly carved, you do not make it. No matter how good you are, no matter how much you know ... If you do not have the personality, there is no way to get there,” she muses.

Even overcoming the barriers imposed on women in the public space, participation in the labor force does not ensure equity at home. Lola Valladares affirms that, “painfully, although women produce the economic resources, they are not deciding where and how that income and resources are invested ... They have to surrender them to their husbands...”

“If you do not have the personality, there is no way to get there”.

-Mónica Heller

Larger presence in higher education and workforce = double and triple workday

The fact that women have gained ground in the fields of higher education and the workplace “has not lightened their burden whatsoever in terms of domestic responsibilities,” explains Pilar Troya. Hence, women must fulfill triple roles and “arrive home to continue doing things, because the only solution given is that women must work for more hours,” she says. In fact, the TUS revealed that Ecuadorian women, on a weekly average, work 15 hours more than men do, a figure that rises to 22 amongst indigenous women and to 19 in Afro-Ecuadorian women. This difference concentrates on the unpaid work of household chores and home and care-related work. According to the TUS, this work, which is assigned to women based on their reproductive role, represents between 24% and 50% of the national GDP and 37% of the GDP worldwide.

Weekly, women work 15 hours more than men do. -National Women Council (CONAMU)

“Although women contribute to the economy two thirds of the value of unpaid domestic work for free, necessary to sustain the economic system as we know it,” explains Puente, “that work is not valued or recognized socially.” Puente adds that “in the last 30, 40 years, we have

entered explosively into the labor market, but the same has not occurred with men in reproductive work, because they do not share the job of caring and of household responsibilities.” That is the experience of Sonia Coral, who rises every day at 5:30 am to fulfill any household duties and leave breakfast prepared for her three daughters and her husband while “he sleeps.” When she returns home from work she continues with the housework, with very little help from her partner. Ana Miranda, a housemaid, lives a similar experience. For her it is implicit that “the most main role [sic] a woman performs is her home duties, of cleaning, cooking, arranging, because a man is not for that, but we are...” The Differential Index with Regard to Housework (DIH) reveals that women spend as much as thrice their time on household chores, care, and any reproductive related activity. This significantly reduces the quality of time they have for themselves, which is even more limited for 29% of women who are heads of households, of which 87.1% are mothers, according to INEC (National Institute of Statistics and Census, for its acronym in Spanish). In this sense, expectations for men and women are uneven. María Paula Romo, member of the National Assembly and of the political organization Ruptura25, puts it like this: “There are more women in traditionally male jobs than men in traditionally female tasks; in other words, for women gender roles are changing, but not so for men.”

Ana Miranda, housemaid. Women continue to be wholly responsible for domestic work, to which they devote 15 hours weekly, of which men invest only 2.

Have gender roles changed for all women, or only for some?

Considering the difference of seven hours of unpaid work a week between mestizo, indigenous, and African American women, it is clear that economic and ethnic conditions have a determining influence on gender roles. “It is not the same to be a white-mestizo woman in a city than to be an indigenous, old woman from the fields,” clarifies Lola Valladares, National Gender Officer at UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund). Pilar Troya also ensures that it is precisely those women who cannot decide to stop having children to further their educational careers, which they do not even have access to. “Ecuador has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the region,”

Marta Rodríguez and Gloria Chuqui. The Association of Community Mothers was born as a project to aid those mothers who, forced to work, left their children uncared for at home. ‘La Pulida’ Center has been working as a daycare for those children for the past 25 years. “Having selfesteem, vision towards the direction and objectives we want to reach as women is, to me, a radical change that initiated with the Center,” claims Marta. However, mothers who work there feel their work is not valued. “Unfortunately the recognition to the work community mothers perform is unrecognized under the assumption that it will be done anyway,” she says.

affirms Valladares. “That says a lot about whether women really have the power to make decisions about when to have children or not,” she observes. For scholars of gender as Angelica Ordóñez, Doctor in Social Sciences and professor at USFQ, it is not only about whether participation of women in certain areas has increased, but also about what kind of participation we’re talking about. “Even if in a given space there are more women, they are still subordinate to the decision of a male boss,” she assures. “The fundamental issue here is to analyze who is in charge of taking decisions and who is able to access positions of power,” corroborates Valladares. Statistics on Adolescent Mothers in Ecuador Factor Adolescent mothers

Figure 122.301

Mothers at 12-19 years old


Afroecuadorian mothers


Indigenous mothers


With one child


With two children Source: INEC


Statistics on Adult Mothers in Ecuador Factor



3.645.167 / 7 million women

First child at 15-19 years old


First child at 20-24 years old


First child at 12-14 years old


Household chores


Work outside the home


Basic education


Middle education


Superior education


No education

Avg. 6 children

Middle Education mothers

Avg. 2.4 children

Fuente: INEC

Politics as a sphere of power

For María Paula Romo, even though women are penetrating the sphere of politics and make up 35% of the Assembly, there is a clear limit to the spaces of authority and the positions they may occupy. Only 10 of 24 provinces have elected women as their representatives. Politics has traditionally been a field barred to women. Those who can carve a path in it are able to do so “because they have family ties and power that enable them to manage

Women in Politics

Category National Assembly Official Diplomatic Representation National Assemblywomen/men Provincial Assemblywomen/men Latin American Mayors

Source: SIISE

their networks,” says Ordóñez. Romo considers that even though “finally there are more women in politics, their role is still that of mothers, only of more people.” Moreover, the fact that “the President has said ‘I do not know if gender equality improved democracy, but I do know it improved the party’ is a super serious statement” that undermines the credibility of the achievements made in this area, she affirms. Valladares also considers that when “referring to the skirts of women in the Assembly, they are reminding them what their role as women is.”

“I don´t know if gender equality improved democracy, but it did improved the party.” -Rafael Correa, President





70 people

185 people

6 people

9 people

34 people

75 people



Amelia Viteri has a similar conception: “Even if it is said that now there are women who are presidents, entrepreneurs, etc., they continue to be a minority as male power is what permeates still, amid subtle negotiations for women.” What we have are “gradual changes,” she specifies. Women who are fortunate enough to be able to choose to postpone the family to advance their education and career face another challenge. “If you want to get far, you have to pay a price, and that price is usually that you see your family less or in some cases, you cannot have a family,” says Viteri. “We have lost in this exchange; workaholic women have no families because they have no time,” she condemns. Gisela Calderón, Graphic Designer at Magenta, her very own firm, explains her decision to sacrifice the family aspect: “What I least wanted was to get married; I wanted to project myself in my work, my ambitions were not husband, family and children ... That would hinder my career,” she remembers. That is why for Santiago Castellanos, “we need to be creative in thinking about alternatives” that will allow women to exercise both roles, if they so want it. “We put women between a rock and a hard place: either your career or your children. Why should she have to decide that?” he questions. “It is ridiculous, unfair. We are asking women to change, when it is society that must change,” he says.

Women in politics are “ still mothers, only to more people.” - María Paula Romo, Assemblywoman, R25

What does all this mean regarding gender roles?

“The presence of women in the labor market has changed, of course. The problem is that this presence has not simultaneously produced a change at the level of the family, hence they continue to have double and triple workload,” notes Lola Valladares.

Gisela Calderón, Graphic Designer, Visual Communicator and Professor at PUCE. When she is not teaching, she spends her time at her study, including on weekends. Working freelance leaves very little free time for herself, she admits.

A place to start is the media, as it is they who “are responsible for creating a false image,” points Angélica Ordóñez. As an example, a national magazine “instead of focusing its coverage on women ministers in their political role, showed them in evening gowns, all made up, posing as models ... That is disrespectful and undermines the credibility of the professionalism of women,” she clarifies. She adds that advertising continues portraying “women as housewives or sex objects” and that “state propagandas that show a man wearing an apron and a woman managing household accounts remain exceptions.” The messages perpetuated by the media are selling because their audiences, usually male, are avid consumers. That’s why Ordóñez considers it important to “reeducate people to create cultural changes.” Soledad Puente agrees. For her this is exactly what the campaign React, Ecuador, Chauvinism is Violence achieved. “It came to impact, to remove gender stereotypes amidst the citizenship,” she assures, adding that “something was transformed culturally; it removed that which supposedly no one questioned.” So – have gender roles really evolved? “My theory is that although it is true that there have been changes, especially at the policy level, at the level of social landscapes and practices we still have a long way to go,” concludes Valladares.

“We are asking women to change, when it is society that must change.” -Santiago Castellanos, PhD

Gender Roles in Ecuador  

Reportage on the evolution and stagnation of gender roles in the country.

Gender Roles in Ecuador  

Reportage on the evolution and stagnation of gender roles in the country.