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Balancing work and childcare: evidence of two textile manufacturing towns of Tehuacán , México. Arlette Covarrubias. Tehuacán , Mexico.

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balancing work and childcare evidence of two textile manufacturing towns of tehuac n m xico

Balancing work and childcare: evidence of two textile manufacturing towns of Tehuacán, México.

Arlette Covarrubias

tehuac n mexico
Tehuacán, Mexico

The NAFTA treaty in 1994 stimulated the boom of textile assembly plants “maquiladoras” in the region which put together mainly jeans increasing the demand for female labour force in the region.


Determine the interdependence of possible welfare states married women and their children can obtain by wives´ participation in different activities available to them; these are the recently created textile assembly plant jobs and the traditional self-employment activities women carry out in the area.

capabilities approach
  • It sees human life as a set of ‘beings and doings’, functionings, which reflect the state of a person. Ej. being well nourished, being healthy, being housed, being able to read and write, being confident, escaping morbidity, achieving self respect, etc.
  • Capability, refers to the combination of functionings a person has the potential to achieve. It reflects a person’s freedom to choose between different ways of living
interdependent capabilities
Interdependent Capabilities
  • When we look at family, each persons Capability should be assessed (Nussbaum 2000)
  • The actions or decisions of one individual might limit the options available to others. One would expect such interdependencies to be particularly stark within the household. My individual conversion factors are incomplete without a recognition of this interdependence. (Iversen 2003)
research site

Santiago Miahuatlan

  • Population: 11,329
  • 28.37% married women employed
  • 80.33% of employed work in Maquila

San Gabriel Chilac

  • Population 11,121.
  • 14.75% married women employed
  • 62.50% of employed work in Maquila
fieldwork techniques
  • Number of in-depth interviews by Town
care for children
  • ‘Its one’s turn to look after the kids at home, but then one does not worry (about them). But, if it were for me I go to work. Tobehonest, I liketowork.’
  • ‘As I have my children, I could not dedicate myself for example, to the maquila, because I couldn’t take care of them, even though I have my mum. But it is very different one as a mother than a grandmother, besides my mother is old. Then, one thinks of something where I can not neglect my children, that is why I dedicate myself to my animals, embroidering, a little of everything. This way I can look after my children.’
  • ‘I cannot (work for the maquila) because of my children, I cannot leave them alone and here washing, I am also watching them. And if I worked outside, then I would leave my children. Therefore I better dedicate myself to wash and not go out. My children as they are small, I have to take care of them as well.’
risks for children
  • “One neglects their children, it is not the same, you know in these days, the kids stay, the parents are not there anymore, and then they go with their friends, God knows what they are doing in the streets, that is why I don´t risk going (to work to the maquila)
school meetings
  • “He (her husband) told me no, that now we have our two daughters and now they need us for anything including school meetings, I am of some things, letters that teachers bring us, and we have to go, because there are lots of mums whose children feel bad because their parents do not go, to be honest I am always going to school meetings.”
children s education
  • ‘We have our children in the school and they pay husbands very little. It is to help each other in the maquila or in any activity.’ We do it ‘to provide our children with education, because we didn’t study we need to give them the best.’
children s health
  • ‘Last time (she worked in the maquila) it was because my son had become ill, because it was necessary to cover the expenses and we had no money. Both of us worked, her in the maquila and me in the fields, because really I couldn’t manage by myself.’
conversion factors
  • Thedegree in which a person can transform a resourceinto a functioning.
  • Personal conversion factors are internal to the person, such as metabolism, physical condition, sex, reading skills, or intelligence.
  • Social conversion factors are factors from the society in which one lives, such as public policies, social norms, practices that unfairly discriminate, societal hierarchies, or power relations related to class, gender, race, or caste. 
wife s social roles
Wife´s social roles
  • The home is my obligation as a wife
  • Well because when one gets married you have the obligation, once I got married, now I have to arrange the house, prepare food, to have things ready for when he (her husband) arrives home
  • One doesn’t take it as an obligation, or maybe.. yes.. as an obligation, it´s like the job of us women, because one has work at home, to clean, to iron, to prepare food, with food for example.. one has togotoschoolmeetings.´
husband s social roles
Husband´s social roles
  • ‘It is wrong… because that is what we are here for, to work and provide with what is necessary.’
  • ‘if she goes to work and the husband stays (at home), then what would the husband do? The food? She will want him to stay preparing the food and her working he hehe (laughs) One has to wake up early, leave the food done, it is also lots of work, it is lots of work.. but if one wants to prosper, a wife prepares the food, the husband comes, arrives from work, he eats. But if she goes to work and the husband stays being a ‘mandilon’ there, taking care of the children… that is not ok, then he gets used to it, then the woman works and he does not want to work any more, isn’t that true?’
hours of work
Hours of work
  • “well because we would then stay until late, we would then stay to “keep a vigil”, then, because of my kids, to take care of them , then I decided to work like this for a while, selling tortillas”
  • “It gives me more time to see my daughters, take care of them, I don’t neglect them a lot, like the maquila is all day long, and here it is just until 2 p.m.”
  • ‘Well they make you work more, because the working hours of an employee are from 8 to 6 in the evening, and you stay until you finish your part, until 9 or 10 at night. On Saturdays they make you work all day when on Saturdays it is only four hours and a half… and they do not pay you, for instance they pay you the four hours and a half and they do not pay you for the work of all the day.’
conversion factors1
  • Social Roles
  • WorkingHours
  • Institutionalrestrictions