_--at the verit -or f Fo16idaij
GENDER ISSUES IN FARMING SYSTEMS
RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
A WALK ON THE "WID" SIDE: SUMMARY OF FIELD RESEARCH ON "WOMEN IN DEVELOPMENT"
IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC AND GUATEMALA
Rae Lesser Blumberg
University of California, San Diego
Agency for International Development
CLAC and PPC/CDIE)
fL I PA,10 AI Y DC;-'
1"-::, C \j "- I C~d
A WALK ON THE "WID" SIDE: SUMMARY OF FIELD RESEARCH ON "UOMEN IN DEVELOPM-ENT"
IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC AND GUATEMALA
Rae Lesser Blumberg
University of California, San Diego
Let me break the rules. Rather than writing this summary report of my
field research on "women in development" in the Dominican Republic and Guate-
mala in either "academese" or bureaucratesee," I am using a more informal, nar-
rative style. As justification, I could cite extreme time pressure: I have only
days to prepare this manuscript; moreover, virtually all my materials on the
Dominican Republic research remain en route, hopefully in the mysterious maw of
the diplomatic pouch mail system. But the main reason for the style is the im-
mediacy and intensity of the experience. With more time, more soberly impersonal
words will flow. But perhaps they will less accurately reflect what I found when
I investigated two "mainstream" development assistance projects of the United
States Agency for International Development. My goal was to analyze the extent
to which they were incorporating women as well as men and with what effect on
both sexes and the project in question. I used the methods of Rapid Rural Ap-
praisal (RRA, described below) to explore the "women in development" (hereinafter,
WID) implications of two projects that involved substantial sums of money and had
not been designed specifically to "take women into account" hence their desicr-
tion as "mainstream."
The first project is an extremely successful, innovative, well-run and soon-
to-be-profitable credit project that gives small loans to poor and very poor -
urban entrepreneurs in the Dominican Republic. The second is an older, larger
and less uniformly successful effort from both the project and WID standpoints.
But this/agribusiness venture (involving the cc-tract growing, processing and ex-
port of vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli) constitutes a virtual "na--
ral experiment" as to how variations in women's work, return-co-lahcr and rela.-
rcr of rscssLreas affect the women, their menfolk and families, and the pr--:
':Mos :.us: :rr-:ed (6/17/75), 4 days :ef--r final deadline; ?ar- : i-:. revis~d.
The research was to serve a double purpose. On the one hand, it was funded
by AID's Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). To LAC, it represen-
ted the field follow-up of an earlier research effort I had undertaken in 1983.
In that project, I analyzed the "paper trail" of available documentation for a
sample of 45 LAC projects. The guiding research question was: to what extent had
females been taken into account in these development aid efforts? But this ques-
tion could be answered to only a limited extent from project documents most of
the answers lay in the field. Among the projects I most strongly recommended for
field research was the Guatemalan agribusiness effort discussed below.
On the other hand, the second purpose of the research was as part of the am-
bitious effort undertaken by AID's Bureau for Policy and Program Coordination (PPC .
Entitled "The Women in Development Evaluation Synthesis: Experience of a Decade,"
this research project had begun with a "paper trail" phase also. A random sample
of 98 projects/from a worldwide universe of over 700 projects in which gender had
emerged as an issue. Then researchers analyzed available project documentation -
means of a series of questionnaires (covering design, implementation and results
phases of the projects) and a qualitative summary. The sample encompassed five
development sectors: agriculture/rural development, education, energy, income
generation/employment, and water. Once again, however, the "paper trail" prove.
insufficient to answer the main research questions. Field research involving --
projects was undertaken in the spring of 1985, in Africa and Asia as well as th
LAC region. A total of four of the field research projects involve LAC countries:
the two described below, a/Caribbean agricultural extension project, and an inn:va-
tive, small WID project involving income producing "appropriate technology" in 3 o-
ivia and Ecuador. Results from the preliminary research reports will be syn.--.-
sized for presentation at the July, 1985 Nairobi conference which ends :he
Decade for Women (1976-1985).
- 3 -
In a narrower sense, the research to be presented at the Nairobi conference
represents a progress report on the extent to which the Agency for International
Development has fulfilled the 1973 Percy Amendment (Section 113) to the Foreign '
Assistance Act. That amendment stipulated that development assistance activi-
shall be administered so as to give particular attention to those programs,
projects and activities which tend to integrate women into the national
economies of foreign countries, thus improving their status and assisting
the total development effort.
In a broader sense, however, the research represents an attempt to codify
what the field of "women in development" has learned about'issues of planned
change; gender stratification> the internal dynamics and economy of the house-
hold; and how organizational structure, staffing and procedures can act as
facilitating or constraining factors in channeling benefits of development to
the poor and powerless including, obviously, the female.
Both the issues of the extent of female incorporation in development pro-
jects and the codification of a body of knowledge about "wcmen in development"
are dealt with in the present summary report. Bu neither topic is treated sys-
tematically. Rather, in this "first report of what I found in the field," the
emphasis is on what hagcened. What problems was I trying to explore in each re-
search site? What did I actually find? To what extent is the project a success,
independent of its attention to women? To what extent is it a success from the
WID perspective? These matters will be presented in the narrative flow of the
report. But periodic attention also will be given to (C) the'"how to" issues
of the circumstances under which females are or are not included in the activities
S and benefits of mainstream development projects; and (2) the broader implications
' of what happens to the women, their menfclk, families and ccrnunities, and to :-
project itself when planned development deliberately or incidentally affec=
sex division of labor and/or resources. _n to the story.
II. THE 0OMINICAN REPUBLIC ADEMI PROJECT- A SUCCESSFUL START AND A PUZZLITN
POLICY CiHANGE THAT (INCIDENTALLY) ELIMINATED MOST FEMALE BENEFICIARIES
A. The Successful Start
The fundamental fact about ADEMI, The Association for the Development of
Micro-Entelrrises, Inc., is its remarkable success. ADEMI has grown spectacu-
larly in its two years of existence. This innovative private-sector organiza- '
tion has found a way to dispense with most of the red tape and constraints that
almost everywhere limit lending to the small micro-entrepreneurs of the informal
sector. At ADEMI, prccsCures are simple and fast: short-term loans .for working
capital take only a few days. Even more impressive than the streamlined organi-
zational procedures, I found, are the staff. From the Executive Director to the
messenger/photocopyist, they are typically dedicated, hard-working, competent,
efficient, honest and empathetic young people. More adjectives would strain
credulity (or bring to mind the Boy Scout virtues), but from top to bottom, I
found ADEMI people working with enthusiasm and elan.
Perusal of the project documents and a day in Boston interviewing the
originators of the innovative ADEMI methodology, Jeffrey Asch and Stephen Gross
of Accion International/AITEC (which continues to provide technical assistance
and evaluation), had prepared me to expect a project with an exceptional track
record. If anything, the latest figures are even better: after only two years,
ADEMI is on the verge of going into the black creating a self-sustaininc and
growing mechanism for generating both income and jobs for the urban poor. As
summarized by Mirtha Olivares, ADEMI's Executive Director, in an April 1985 pac:r
presented at a Toronto credit conference, ADEMI:
Creates one jobhor each US $818 lent (paying US S67, RD 5209, per em=lc-.-ye)
Creates a US $167 increase in profit/month per micro-entrepreneur
Rotates its portfolio 3.5 times a year.
-.Therefore, with a US $100,000 loan portfolio ADEMI CAN LEMD US S 350, 00
With US $350,000 lent, ADEMI CAN GENERATE ADDITIONAL INCOME ?pER YEAR CT:
US $343,000 for new workers
US $841,000 in additional micro-entrepreneurs' income
= US 51,184,000 in additional income generated (sum of 2 nrecedinc --es
divided by US 5100,000 loan -ortfolio
EACH DOLLAR ::rESTED 1:1 ADEMI'S LOAN P.OTFCOLO GC-E:ATE A.''CS .
DOLLARS CF NE'-' ICCME A -EA...
- 5 -
ADEMI's program also has been successful in creating new jobs. The
average micro-entrepreneur has added nearly one-and-a-half new workers.
The Dominican Republic is suffering a serious crisis of unemployment and
underemployment, which is especially worrisome in the urban sector. Thus,
the fact that loans to micro-entrepreneurs have created sizeable numbers of
new jobs at low cost while stabilizing even larger numbers of existing jobs
will prove to be quite significant to the discussion below. After sketching
in additional details of ADEMI's background, operations.and enviable track
record, I shall turn to the puzzling policy change that has drastically re-
duced the proportion of female beneficiaries.
As background, ADEMI is an indigenous private voluntary organization
created in February 1983 by a group of influential Dominican business leader.:.
before ADEMI, informal sector micro-entrepreneurs could get credit only at
usurous rates and by pledging capital assets. In contrast, ADEMI provides it-
short-term working capital loans at market rates of interest. USAID has
been instrumental in ADEMI's formative period, providing DR $150,000 from EST
local currencies into the credit account, and DR $500,000 over two years for
overhead expenses until ADEMI reaches organizational self-sufficiency.
One additional background detail is needed: ADEMI was created with
two program components. The first involved loans to individual -icro-entre-
preneurs, who had from roughly one to six employees. The second was even
more innovative and provided loans to the very lowest level of the micro-
entrepreneurial hierarchy: street sellers, recyclers, home-based mini-
workshop..ventures, etc. The vehicle was the Solidarity Group (Gruto Soli-
dario), whereby some 4-8 people who knew each other and trusted each other.
would band together to guarantee each other's loans. They would 'e loIa-.
a sum to be divided among the group -embers. Common to bc:h :=cn-onents
t'-e idea o -.:-e radually increase. loan si=. i'it each suc-ss-., -.-
time payment, borrowers were to be eligible to receive a larger sum, uo to the
then-existing ceilings on loans to individual micro-entrepreneurs and Solidarity
At this point in time, the Solidarity Group component has been suspended.
The reasons why will be discussed below, as the sizzlingn g policy change." None-
theless, ADEMI statistics continue to list Solidarity Group data. (During 1983,
ADEMI's first year of operation, 214 of the 215 Solidarity Groups were formed; the
last was formed in February, 1984, although the program was not formally sus-
pended until September-October, 1984. But by spring, 1984, loans to Solidarity
Groups began to be delayed, frozen or even cut even to g#ours that had never
been late with a single payment.) In her Toronto paper, Mirtha Olivares presented
the following statistics (as of farch 31, 1985, covering 23 months f operations):
INDIVIDUAL MI- SOLIDARITY TOTALS
A. PEOPLE BENEFITED:
No. of businesses financed
No. of persons benefited.
New Jobs Created
No. of loans granted
Total amount lent (USS) i,
Average amount/loan (USS)
Loan portfolio (current) RDS
Assuming (conservaci'.:ely) 5 people
** :n this table, US 31.00= R S3.20.
847 1150 in 215 groups
per household of each
Else'-.here, :S S1.00=
- 7 -
B. The Puzzling Policy Chance that (Incidentally) Eliminated Most Female Clients
With respect to the preceding table, two statistics must be highlighted -
and one of them isn't in the table. First, note that no new jobs are attributed'
to the Solidarity Groups, vs. 1,151 for the micro-entrepreneurs. Second, Re-
becca Reichmann, in her study, "Women's Participation in ADEMI," found that as
of February 1984, only about 14% of the micro-entrepreneurs were female, whereas
fully 43% of the 1,150 members of the Solidarity Groups were women almost 500
individuals. The latest figures now show (May 1985) that 17% of the micro-enter-
prises are run by women: 150 out of a current total of 874' ventures. In short,
by the policy decision of suspending the Solidarity Group component, ADEMI had
(incidentally) eliminated about 77% more than three-fourths of all women
Why this dramatic policy shift? Project documents, Rebecca Reichmann's
study for Accion International/AITEC, and my interviews in Boston provided no more
than tantalizing clues. In none of the brief discussions in ADEMI documents
of the suspension of the Solidarity .roup component was the disproportionate
impact on women mentioned. What were mentioned were vague reasons: the economy
was deteriorating and those on the bottom would be most hurt, making future loans
risky; some of them may have encouraged the migration of "country cousins" to
join their Solidarity Groups and share the ADEMI bonanza; others might abandon
the city to return to the country if the economic situation grew more precarious;
delinquencies seemed to be increasing and after all, they didn't create jobs...
Since during 1983,/delinquencies were only 1% among Solidarity Group members
(2) rose among both micro-entrepreneurs and Solidarity Groups in early 1984 (in
April 1984, the worsening economic crisis led to full-scale food riots and u:-
(3) to date
risings in which scores were killed); and/the only study found no tendency for
the smallest loans to be more often delinquent than larger ones, it was clear t-ha
field follow-up of the Solidarity Group puzzle was needed.
C. Methodologv: Rapid Rural Appraisal Technicues in an Urban/Slum Setting
Even without the added dilemma of the Solidarity Groups' demise, my research
agenda was too full and time too limited for many standard social science tech-
niques. So I adapted many of the methods of Rapid Rural Appraisal (RiA, developed
by development researchers affiliated with the University of Sussex) to the
*situation in Santo Domingo.
First, I attempted to do a small follow-up study of Rebecca Reichmann's
early 1984 investigation of women's participation in ADEMI.' She had interviewed
a random sample of 44 women and 15 men, representing (in unstated proportions)
both the Solidarity Group and micro-entrepreneurs components. I was. able to
interview 16 micro-entrepreneurs (10 women and 6 men) and 20 members of Solidar-
ity Groups *(10 women and 10 men). For the micro-entrepreneurs, interviews were
done individually, in their place of business or home. The Solidarity Group
members (the 20 individuals represented 11 separate groups) were interviewed
in groups of 3, 3 and 2 women, and a marathon group session that went on for
hours and included 10 men and 2 women. I developed a questionnaire that (a) in-
corporated much of Reichmann's 1984 instrument (she had stressed the factors,
\ such as transaction time and costs, collateral requirements, etc. that frequently
S restrict women's access to credit factors that ADEMI has almost wholly overcome
.J~ as part of its normal operating procedures, which apply to both male and female),
and (b) included the topics of the overarching WID research (such as the internal
economies of clients' households;/changes in workload, relative decision-making
power in the family, self-confidence and economic plans). After completing the
questionnaire items, I asked open-ended questions about institutional issues
(ADEMI's policies, delivery systems, practices and how these have chanced). Wi-:
the Solidarity Group members, I also asked about their group's payment record
and history,.and explored their perception of ADEMI's policy change and the im-
pact on their lives.
Second, I got the ADEMI records of the various people/Solidarity Groups
interviewed, for both further information and as a check. (Loan amounts jibed
exactly, but people were often fuzzy if they were on their eighth or eleventh
ADEMI loan, and mentioned more part-time/family workers than their ADEMI records
on "employees" showed.)
Third, I interviewed key informants in ADEMI: from the dynamic, strong-
willed President, Lic. Camilo Lluberes, to the/Peace Corps Volunteers who pro-
vided ADEMI with accounting and computer expertise (two men) and design advice
(four of the seven men and the lone woman)
for clients (one woman). I interviewed five of the eight Asesores/- university
graduates in Business or Economics who act as counselors, promoters, and credit
investigators and form the foundation of ADEMI's successful strategy. (My 16
micro-entrepreneur interviews fell into the zones of four of them, and we tramped
miles through the slums to locate the clients; ADEMI will.be getting small motor-
cycles in its upcoming three-year expansion program.) Mirtha Olivares, the first-
rate new Executive Director, provided me with hours of valuable interviews, and
her staff gave me much information and help, including complex computer runs.
Fourth, I took advantage of the new computer system to request a number of
sex-disaggregated statistics. In the course of generating them, programs were
written that will permit the routine disaggregation by gender.of this information
in the future. (However, it also emerged that where gender had not been coded -
as for sex of employees the new computerized procedures made it virtually imcs-
sible to backtrack.) These data, comparing male and female micro-entrepreneurs,
will be presented below.
Fifth. to explore the rationale for suspending the Solidarity Grsu=s,
.nder-ock .he .din., tabulating and analysis of the available data on the 46
- 10 -
Solidarity Groups that had never been even one day late on any payment (21.4% of
the 215) even in the months when ADEMI was winding down the Solidarity Group
component and loans were frequently delayed or cut. These data also will be
LSixth, I succeeded in locating/the former head of the Solidarity Group program
who facilitated all my interviews with Solidarity Group members and with the woman
who had been the principal Asesor for the program. He proved a major resource.
Additionally, I received superb help from Douglas Crowe, the AID person (in
the Private Enterprise program) backstopping the ADEMI project. Other techniques
that I used included a final briefing at both ADEMI and the USAID Mission, in
which I presented tentative conclusions and asked for discussion and suggestions.
In all of the above, I attempted to use "triangulation" techniques, in which
the multiple approaches provide a broader. and deeper picture of what is being in-
vestigated, despite the rapidity of the process.
Since the micro-entrepreneur component is continuing and thriving, and since
the female micro-entrepreneurs, although relatively few, are shown by every one
of the above methods to be doing at least as well as the men, let us begin the
analysis with a sex-disaggregated examination of the ADEMI program for individual
D. Male and Female Micro-Entrepreneurs: Present Performance and 'Ftur_ ?ros=ects
The data from the computer runs show a picture of remarkable success, -and my
interviews with sixteen of the clients introduced me to people who, for the most
part, =roved remarkable in person, while ac~earin" mediocre on apcer. What would
a bank have said about',even the two most highly educated:
A 38-year-old man with a university degree in Social Communication and
artistic inclinations. Unable to find work in his field, he heeded a
friend's advice to turn out tourist handicrafts. For 8 years he has
operated a modest workshop pzrducing amber handicrafts/jewelry.
The 32-year-old wife of a top executive (he administers 200 employees),
trained but not happy as a Certified Public Accountant. Some five
years ago, she began to move into the dressm.akin- business on a small
and often fluc-ua:ing scale.
.-f. r. '.^ ^41: C\L r. < ? ?^ C^L d ^^^^ \Lr"7
- 11 -
What indeed, would a bank have said about some of the less well-educated (and thus
more typical) micro-entrepreneurs? To give two more examples:
A 55-year-old woman household head with six still-dependent children and a
fourth grade education who, although trained as a dressmaker, finds she
earns more running a hardware store. Six years ago, she opened a small-
scale backyard factory to make cement blocks a highly non-traditional
business for a female.
A 52-year-old bachelor who has fathered 14 children [3 still dependent
and he would like 2 more), has a sixth grade education, and who worked
in shoe repair in New York for many years. He brought back some antiquated
shoe repair equipment, which he has installed in a shop on the Main street
of one of the poorest and most remote shacktowns of Santo Domingo.
These four of my 16 cases are not the most successful: one couple I inter-
viewed went from 5 to 50 employees in an amber and handicrafts business fueled
by 12 ADEMI loans (rising from DR $200 to DR $7,0001 over an 18-month period;
another man, a bakery owner, expanded from 8-9 employees to 20, spurred by 8 ADEMI
loans (rising from DR $300 to DR $6.000) over a 23-month period.
SNevertheless, the stories of these four cases are impressive:
The man with the Social Communication degree saw his amber handicrafts and
jewelry business grow from 2-4 employees to 8, and from DR $1,380 to DR
$4,800 in sales using 9 ADEMI loans (rising from DR $200 to DR 51,000)
over 19 months. Now he plans to expand and upgrade "as far as '. can."
The woman ex-accountant is already on her fourth ADEMI loan in seven months
(she is one of several new clients interviewed; not all were follow-up ca-
ses from Rebecca Reichmann's study). Her loans have increased from DR S400
to DR $1,300. She has added one employee and stabilized and increased the
hours worked of her other four. She feels her business is now organized; s
she hopes to make it grow by diversifying: adding men's shirts and retail
sales to her women's wear line. She feels more self-confident and secure,
and thinks that because she now feels better organized, "I have more contre.
in economic decisions in %6-home ---.,, more of a voice."
The woman with the backyard cement block factory, in 18 months with ADEMI,
has had 7 loans rising from DR $200 to DR $2,000. She has added two emplol-
ees (most of her children also help a common pattern among micro-entrepr-
n'eurs, especially the women her youngest, age 11, crushes damaged blocks;.
Her volume has increased from one to three truckloads of sand. delivered per
week. "Sometimes I never even close; sometimes I'm up wetting the blocks ?-
6AM but.it doesn't bother me." She is proud and pleased with her business
growth and now wants to buy more land to expand it. Any small savings go
for the children "so that they can study" and the house. And her modest
S.C,. : ..... house shows it: it contains a set of encyclopedias, a new refrigerator -
and the children's stereo.
- 12 -
Finally, the man with the shoe repair business has almost more business
than he can handle. Sales have increased from DR $1,400 to DR $19,000/mo.
during his 23 months with ADEMI. He has had 9 loans, rising from DR $300
to DR $5,000. He has gone from 2-3 to 9 employees and in busy hours, has
customers waiting in line. He even uses his machines to do additional
work for other shoe repairers who don't have such equipment. He says his
income has gone up 500% but he reinvests it, anticipating a business with
20 employees. He also is more active in community charity work: "for
sick children one has to help the others." He is more confident, tran-
quil and secure, he tells me. But during the whole interview, during the
S J L afternoon rush hour, the jammed shop is closer to (cheerful) pandemonium
Sii. / than tranquility. The ex-New Yorker never seems to notice.
- From this small glimpse of the people involved, let us move to some selected
aggregate statistics. First of all, even though ADEMI's micro-entrepreneurs are
engaged in a wide array of businesses, over 80% of the 150 female clients are found
in only three economic sectors: food, clothing and ceramics. The single largest
economic category is clothing: there are 150 clients engaged in the mostly small-
scale tailoring, dressmaking and related production/sales activities, and almost
half 73 are women (vs. 77 men, i.e., 48.7%). Thus, 48.7% of the 150 female
micro-entrepreneurs are involved in the "rag trade," Santo Domingo-style.
Accordingly, I shall present statistics for (a) the clothing sector, and (b)
the total sample. The data are presented separately for males and females, and
involve the six major parameters-that-A ~MI. has computerized: (1) fixed assets;
(2) sales; (3) profits; (4) savings; (5) salaries, and (6) employees. I have
also calculated the average salary paid and the amount of employment creation.
In the clothing sector, we shall see that women's businesses crew faster
than men's in five of the six parameters. In the sixth, fixed assets, women's
businesses initially had more than the men's, which are now catching up.
Even more significant, given the increasing concern in ADEMI policy for
job creation, the women micro-entreoreneurs have created more 4obs than the men.
This is especially dramatic in the clothing sector, where men's businesses have .-
creased by .64 employee, while women's businesses have added an average of 1.4
jobs each. For the total 874 businesses, women's added 1.5 onbs each, vs. 1.3
for the men's.
- 13 -
A. CLOTHING SECTOR: MEN (N-77) WOMEN (N-73)
IN- -- -
INITIAL MEAN CURRENT MEAN CR. INITIAL MEAN CURRENT MEAN MRS.
Fixed Assets 335,780 4,361 487,530 6,332 45% 552,779 7,572 625,399 8,567 13%
Sales 269,535 3,500 352,538 4,578 31 178,690 2,448 281;217 3,852 37
Profits 50,231 652 89,323 1,160 78 38,951 534 92,153 1,262 '7
Savings 6,976 91 19,489 253 179 4,938 '68 16,262 223 -19
Salaries 57,440 746 72,796 945 27 44,772 613 69,550 953 ::
Employees 299 3.9 348 4.5 16 289 4.0 391 5.4 35
Mean salary 192. 209 155 178
Jobs added 49/77= +.64 jobs each 102/73-+1.4 jobs each
3. TOTAL: 874 MICRO-ENTE 2RENTEURS
MEN (N-7241 WOMEN (N=150)
INITIAL MEAN CURRENT
3247168 4,485 4317524
2617590 3,615 4026125
479,983 663 1060299
36,118 50 223,687
549,238 759 871,028
3,102 4.3 4,074
972/724= -1.3 jobs each
221/150- *1.5 jobs each
In short, despite the fact that the economy has suffered greatly since earl
1984 with food riots, inflation, an eroding e::rhange rate against the US doll.
and IMF-provoked austerity measures both men and women micro-entrepreneurs -ha.
used their ADEMI loans to make their businesses crow. That's a success story.
- 14 -
The fact that women micro-entrepreneurs perform so well in their businesses
is new: the preceding table is taken from the first computer run in which ADEMI 's
six main parameters were broken down by sex. Nevertheless, those working for ADEM--
already had a subjective impression that: (1) women's oavback record is somewhat
better than men's, and (2) women tend to be more responsible. This attitude came
out in each of the interviews with the Asesores and their supervisor, who had
daily contact with male vs. female clients, and was echoed in the comments of
ADEMI's top management. Data to test these impressions are available, at least
in part. Male/female performance would have to be compared within economic sector
(eg, clothing, food, ceramics, etc.) since different sectors have different levels
of risk and delinquency. Moreover, male/female performance would have to be com-
pared in smaller vs. larger businesses, and with smaller vs. larger loans.
In an analysis funded by the I~ter-American Development Bank, an Accion In-
ternational/AITEC staffer found that those with small businesses/small loans were
no more likely to be delinquent than their larger-scale counterparts. His'finding,
had not yet been presented to ADEMI in final form, however, and some from the
President to several of the Asesores mentioned their feelings that, given the
much-worsened economic situation, smaller micro-entrepreneurs/represented a poten-
tially greater risk, due to the greater precariousness of their businesses.
Moreover, some ADEMI people seem to have acted (consciously or not) on their
impressions. In comparison with the heady days of 1983, there seems to be a ten-
dency for the loans to "trickle up" a bit toward somewhat larger and more estab-
At any rate, comparing the micro-entrepreneurs to whom ADEMI gave loans in
the last quarter of 1984 with those surveyed in a large-scale 1980 study of the
micro-entrepreneurial/informal sector, AITEC's Jeffrey Asch has found an upward
skew. The average micro-entrepreneur in the 1980 study had 1.6 em-lcyees: ADE:-!
recent loan recipients averaged 3.8. Moreover, a more detailed :omaarisen shows.
1980 Study: Micro-entrepreneurs Clients of ADEMI as of July, 1984,
with Fixed Location, Santo Domingo vs. oer Initial Loan Ap;lication Forms
0 employees .33.8% 0 employees 2.2%
1-2 47.9 1-2 26.6
3-4 12.0 3-4 35.0
5-6 2.1 5 11.3
7+ 4.2 6-10 19.0
Source; Study for the Dominican Source: Personal communication from
Development Foundation by Stephen Jeffrey Asch; based on analysis he
H. Gross; personal communication requested from ADEMI
from Jeffrey Asch
In other words, ADEMI has given 36.2% of its loans to micro-entrepreneurs with 5
or more employees (6.3% of the 1980 study's universe), and 71.2% to those with 3
or more employees (18.3% of the 1980 study's universe]. Only 28.8% of ADEMI loans
went to those with 2 employees or less (81.7% of the 1980 universe).
Why is this important? Quite simple: everyone agrees that the higher up
one goes in the micro-entrepreneurial hierarchy, the fewer females are found. If
ADEMI has not managed to give loans to more .than 17% women micro-entrepreneurs
to date, the proportion of female beneficiaries would almost surely drop sizeably
if the loans were to "trickle up" to the larger, better-established businesses
of the micro-entrepreneurial sector. And -moreover, Ca) due to excess loan demand
S,' ADEMI needs to do little promotion (which might have attracted new female clients
, if women-linked communications channels were used), and (b) with the imminent
plans to buy small motorcycles for the Asesores, there has been serious talk of
not hiring any more female Asesores (although many young women commute tb work
on motos). In sum, it appears that future prospects could see fewer rather thar
more women micro-entrepreneurs as clients of ADEMI, despite their solid oerfcr-
m ance and general reputation as more reliable borrowers. Let us now examine
S what happened with the Solidarity Groups.
E. Male and Female Solidarity Group Members: the People Behind the Puzzle
It was not until the last few days of my stay in Santo Domingo that I was
able to make contact with the former head of the Solidarity Group component and
begin meeting with the Solidarity Group (SG) members. Until then, I had been ex-
ploring the mystery of whether their past performance justified the decision of
ADEMI's President to halt the program as though it were an intellectual puzzle.
Meeting the people and hearing their stories brought home the human impact of thaL
policy decision. And it provided additional support for my tentative conclusion
that the Solidarity Group program had been a success in economic, social and cencde.
terms in its heyday before the policy began to change. In other words, ADEMI ha.
two winning components.
What is clear is that, faced with a resource crunch (delayed receipt of Inte-
American Development Bank funds) and an eroding economy, ADEM! top management in
early 1984 (even before the April riots) began opting for the job-creating, less
poverty-stricken micro-entrepreneurs over the survival-sustaining Solidarity Grc.:'s
What is not clear is that any empirical evidence exists to buttress management's
admittedly subjective impression that the SGs' performance were questionable and
their prospects very risky. To the contrary, I. found indications of positive,
rather than negative, performance. Only a full-scale study which I strongly
recommend can fully resolve the question of whether SG "misconduct" contrib':.-
to their demise. Meanwhile, my'paitial study proved quite illuminating.
First, I coded and analyzed available data on the 46 SG's (containing 26
members) which had never been even one day late with a single payment:
TABLE 4 No. of loans Group % Members w/,2
215 SGs 46 SGs: Median Mean Mode Size Yrs. in City
All-female groups 4% 3% 9 9.0 5-0
All-male groups 33. 33 9 7.7 9, 5.6 c 9.3
Mixed cr=ous: 64 63 8 7.4 10 5.7 3.0
,50% female 25 24
3 Coordinator 28 26
- 17 -
Three things are clear from Table 4: (l) There are no gender differences
in the composition of the "super performer" 46 SG's vs.. the full 215: all-female
groups, all-male groups and mixed groups are represented in the same proportion
among the "46" as in the "215." (2). The "super performer" groups had an average
of 9 loanseach i.e., their performance held up over time. (3) There is no
evidence to support the "country cousin" allegation contained in ADEMI's 1984 3d
quarter report that SG members might be bringing their country relatives to
join in their groups and ADEMI's largesse (I found no case of any of the "super
group" members with less than one year in the city, and there were only a fev
In addition, my analysis of the members of the "46" showed that there was
no apparent return to education: i.e., no relationship emerged between years
of education and income. Worse yet, there was a clear trend for younger SG
members to have more education with no consistent effect on their fortunes.
It appears that un- and under-employment and the state of the economy are now
such that many young people with well over primary school (sixth grade) educa-
tions are unable to be incorporated into the mainstream economy and in the
informal sector, as evidenced by the top 46 groups, they don't seem to be doing
any better than their, less educated counterparts. That may be socially explo -7,e.
All this was brought home to me my first day interviewing SG members.
My last interview of the day was with 3 women from 2 of the all-female
groups (neither in the "top 46": one group had 4 delinquencies, 3 of 1
day and 1 of 2 days; the other had 2 delinquencies of 3 days each). The
house was a humble wooden shack but it had a refrigerator and TV. Two
middle-aged women (48 and 45, with 3 years and no education, respectively)
1\ represented a group composed of five female heads of household street-
S.. peddlers. The third woman was the 26-year-old daughter (with 2 children,
Saged 6 and 6 months, and an Sth grade education) of the 48-year-old in
whose house the interview took place. Her group of 7 young women with
,\' children (only 1 of whom lived with a husband: 2 lived in their own c-zL -
ters and 4 with their mothers) included 4 dressmakers and 3 street sellers
of cosmetics and cloth. The 45-year-old said that before ADEMI she had
been "enslaved by the money-lender." Her group had had 12 .SEM- lcans, u-;t
as 1984 wore on, they had some delays and cuts in loan amcun-s. This i-
pleted their working capital so that they sometimes had to go to the -.-.e
lenders when an ADEMI payment was due...After concluding with a discussion
of their hard-won economic independence C'some women who earn money accept
the man's authority, but we don't"1, I was asked by the 26-year-old if I
could.drop her off near her night school if she arranged for me to hire
transportation out of the barrio. She had changed to stylish (though cheap)
c'^' clothes and her make-up was stunning. I didn't recognize her. She was
studying "to improve her life." I didn't mention my data analysis on edu-
cation and income among SG members.
Earlier that afternoon, I had been involved in a marathon meeting that
lasted several hours. It took place in a barrio fronting the Ozama River that
S, rainy season (c
*.- fought a yearly/battle with flooding and impassable dirt roads. The .10 men and
2 women included representatives of two of the "super 46" SG's. We aired the prc: -
lems with ADEMI's lengthening delays in 1984 loans and the hardships. We dis-
*,- cussed the economic crisis and their frequent response: chancing business or
SL',o -- economic activity in order to survive. One man sold plastic on the street.
( '' When that became unviable, he sold vegetables on the other side of the river. Nc::
r' c he is working as a driver. He had been the Coordinator of one of the two "46"
%./ groups represented, "but you have to be flexible."
Coordinator of the
I also learned the story of the/other "46" group represented at the meeting
In order to maintain his group's perfect on-time record in what turned out
to be their last loan, he pawned his TV. The group never got another loan,
and he lost his TV.
Nevertheless, most of the SG members interviewed said they would be willing
to work with ADEMI acain if the Solidarity Group orocram was resurrected. Even
though they agreed that the SG loans never reached a sufficient level to "get them
over the threshold" and create a growing and sustainable business, most had exc-
perienced some economic improvement. And even though the SG members I met are
much poorer than the micro-entrepreneurs (as shown by their patched and shabby
clothes"and poor/missing teeth), they spoke with the same/entrepreneurial spiri-.
They explained to me in detail just how much of a working capital loan a
person in each of their varied economic activities would need to get a --:--.bl
business off the ground. The amount varied from DR 5200 to DR 5500 (for .
upholsterer), probably double what was needed in 1983. ADEMI's SG loans
had never cotten up to the needed breakthrough level. Perhaps in the -' -e
- 19 -
In none of the meetings with SG members, did I hear of evidence to corroborate
another of the subjective impressions advanced by management (in ADEMI documents)
as rationale'for suspending the SG component: that SG members might well flee
the city and their loans if the economic situation continued in crisis. To
the contrary, most of these people were long-time residents of the city. Most
yere old enough that they had growing children for whom the city meant schools
and a possible better life.. "Laow could we abandon our children's future, to go
back to the country?"-i-_
In fact,the only ADEMI contention that was supported by the SG members was
that the SGs should be smaller rather than larger. Groups of 6 to 8 were seen
by some as too large/ and smaller groups of 3 to 5 were mentioned when we talked
about their attitudes toward participating in a resuscitated Solidarity Group pro-
At this point in time, the President of ADEMI is willing to restart an ex-
perimental SG effort, if it is accompanied by a baseline study and on-going moni-
toring and evaluation. But he feels that because women SG members, in his opinion,
proved more responsible in paying back than some of the men, such a program should
be limited (initially?) exclusively to women. In fact, he would prefer that they
be female heads of household ("abandoned women"), who have the urgent necessity
for economic activity and responsible behavior.
In that direction, however, lies the possibility of a small "charity" program
rather than a large and growing and self-sustaining economic program. What is so
and growth potential.
unicue about the ADEMI Solidarity Group orcaram is -recisely its economic viabili:..
Lending costs are low (presumably lower than in the individual micro-entrepreneur
component, although comparative data are not available),/there are large numbers
of people of both sexes who would be eager to join who already are e:-erienced ir
entrepreneurial activities. If, indeed, women's performance is at least as gcod
as the men's, then, given their high representation in the lower levels of micro-
entrepreneurs the Solidarity Group target population it behooves management
to include them. But not exclusively. The "lessons learned" of a decade of WID.in-
dicates that "all women means small." And ADEMI's ultimate promise is for someth:..-;
F. Conclusion: Is ADEMI the Model for a "McDonalds of Develoement" Breakthrouchn-
In our Boston interview, Jeffrey Asch summed up the promise of the original
ADEMI conception, a twin Solidarity Group-plus-Micro-entrepreneur focus, in a
striking phrase: as the model on which to build the"McDonalds of Third World cre-
dit projects to help the poor," Fast, profitable, efficient, low-cost, capable of
reaching large numbers of people it could as well be an achievable prognosis for
an ADEMI-tvpe program as it proved for the U,S, fast food industry that grew out u-.
McDonalds' breakthrough idea. If the ADEMI model were refined and "franchised"
world-wide, its potential to provide substantial economic benefits to, conceivably.
scores of millions of Third World women and men informal sector entrepreneurs -
while paying its own way v is mind-boggling. Furthermore, as the preceding data
underscore, economic benefits can bring considerable social benefits in their wake,
ranging from the virtually universal increase in self-confidence among ADEMI bene--
ficiaries to increased spending on their children's education and welfare. Addi-
tionally, if the ADEMZ model including the Solidarity Group component is pro-
ven to be a successful private sector venture, then this new type of "McDonalds"
would presumably generate its own "Burger King, et al." competitors...
The notion of private sector organizations competing to give credit to awe-
some numbers of poor male and female informal sector entrepreneurs may be too far-
fetched a scenario for plausibility. But, even on a greatly reduced scale, if
honest and efficient ADEMI-type organizations prove replicable and capable of
achieving self-sufficient growth within several years, enormous progress could -e
achieved toward two n.o,-elusive development goals: incorporating wcnen into mat-.
- 21 -
stream development efforts, and promoting "growth with equity" for a substan-
tial stratum. of the Third World poor.
All in all, as I watched my last glowing sunset from my storybook hotel
(built in 1503 as the domain of the then*G vernor, Nicolas de Ovando), I too
felt a glow. The sex-disaggregated computer runs confirmed subjective impres-
sions of women micro-entrepreneurs as good loan clients. Their businesses grew
impressively on all major indicators and outperformed those of their male coun-
terparts in the clothing sector, the largest single category (see Table 2, p.
13). And although the Solidarity Group component remained suspended, the Pres-
ident of ADEMI proclaimed his willingness to revive it, on an experimental,
research-backed basis. Finally, there was the alluring promise that the ADfMI
model might be a replicable way for extending mainstream development benefits
to women along .with men in the urban informal sector of much of the Third
What would Guatemala offer in comparison?
- 22 -
III. THE GUATEMALAN ALCOSA/AGRIBUSINESS PROJECT: A "NATURAL EXPERIMENT" ON "WID::
A. Prologue The Natural Setting and the Natural ExPeriment
My first dawn in Guatemala, I discovered that the check-in clerk's promise ,.
was true. The rainy season clouds had cleared and my tenth floor room did, in-
deed, look out on the splendid panorama of volcanoes to the west. The perfect
cone of the volcano called Agua Water was completely visible, offering what
I soon learned was one of its brief dawn or dusk cloud-free appearances. To the
west lay the Indian highlands of this ethnically-divided country, and three of
the four research sites of the "natural experiment" on women in development I had
come to study.
In 1980, Ken Kusterer, a sociologist from American University, had spent
four months conducting a study published as "The Social Impact of Agribusiness:
A Case Study of ALCOSA in Guatemala" (U.S. Agency for International Development,
1981). The work represents development research at its best: an insightful
combination of qualitative and quantitative techniques that sharply illuminates
the human impact of large-scale development. Moreover, the report is fascinatingly
detailed and extremely well-written. But what I found most intriguing about
the study since I first encountered it in my 1983 WID research (Blumberg, 1983),
is the fact that its findings can be rearranged to reveal a four-site "natural
experiment" on how the sexual division of labor and the sexual division of re-
sources can affect not only the men and women involved, but also the develop-
ment process itself. Although the field of women in development has accumula-
ted a rich body of knowledge and increasing policy prominence in the 15 years
since Ester Boserup's landmark book (Woman's Role in Economic Develoment),
funding for in-depth field research is not abundant. So here, at cut-rate cost,
what unexpectedly turned out to be
one could do a "five years after" follow-up of/a striking sequence from low
to high of women's involvement in the process and rewards of development.
*Kusterer althoughh cole AID contractor) shared authorship with his -.-.:o luatemal..-.
resear-.ers, Lie. "'aria .ecina strada de 3atres and Jose'ina X"a "xil (see -e-
low), so the re-or- is actually" '"K'..sterer, e: al:' as i-s he e:.-.
- 23 -
Kusterer's research analyzes the socioeconomic impacts intended and un-
intended of a large agribusiness firm, ALCOSA (Alimentos Congelados Monte
Bello, S.A.). ALCOSA is a wholly-U.S.-owned enterprise that contracts for and
freezes vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, snow peas and ok-
ral for export to the U.S. ALCOSA has been the beneficiary of several loans,
with an authorized limit of $750,000, extended by LAAD de Centroamerica (a
subsidiary of the Latin American Agribusiness Development Corporati6n). LAAD
de Centroamerica had been developed by low-cost loans (totalling S11'million as
of Kusterer's 1980 research) from the Agency for International Development's
Regional Office for Central American Programs (ROCAP). LAAD develops nontradi-
tional agribusinesses, and AID has insisted that LAAD-financed projects directly
benefit poor small farmers and farmworkers. The ALCOSA project had been contro-
versial: praised for positive socioeconomic impact in congressional testimony
and criticized by Frances Moore Lappe and Joseph Collins (in Food First) for un-
expected negative consequences..
Accordingly, the/aim of Kustrerr's research was to clarify ALCOSA's impacts
- favorable or otherwise on the lives and fortunes of its contract farmers and
processing plant workers. As it turned out, many of the effects on women fell
into the "unintended consequences" category and included both the positive and
the negative. To arrange Kusterer's research sites in the 1980 WID-related pro-
gression (from low to high) in which they will be presented here, we find: three
villages in the Cakchiquel Indian areas of the western highlands, (1) Patzicia,
(2) Chimachoy, and (3) Santiago Sacatepequez, and (4) the town of San Jose Pinula
where the ALCOSA plant is located, in the Ladino area just south of Guatemala City.
Patzicia. Scene of the last major Indian uprising in 1944 Cover 1000 were
killed on both sides when the Cakchiquel inhabitants revolted against Ladino in-
_mi.ation)t 2a.tzicia retains an Indian majority and deep ethnic tensions.
*bs, Hanover Brands. According to Tom voonev of LA'D "'. "entroamerica, .=LCOSA ",
crown to the point *-'ere Hanover Brands' success is now significnntl/ decenden:
on its aLCO3 A operation (which wai not vet the case in'1l80).
What is striking about Patzicia in women in development terms is that: (a) neither
Cakchiquel nor Ladina women worked in the fields in pre-ALCOSA days, (b) the ALCOSA
vegetables are extremely labor-intensive, (c) by 1980 the contract farmers found'.
themselves with such critical labor shortages that large farmers had generally
abandoned contract growing entirely and some of the poorer farmers were forced
to spend scarce resources on expensive "labor-saving" farming methods, yet (d)/as
of 1980, womenAtill did not work in the fields, to their husbands' disadvantage:
Only Patzicia has such sharp problems of labor supply because only Patzicia
overlooks what has emerged in the other two villages as the obvious solution:
farm labor for women (Kusterer, 1981:52).
ST had happened in the intervening five years? Would I find that tradition had
continueto triumph over economics? Would there still be farmers engaged in con-
tract growing for ALCOSA? And if they were doing field work in 1985, would I
still find the women of Patzicia to be as male-dominated, submissive and timid
as they were in 1980 when Kusterer found that, whereas, in Chimachoy and Santiago,
where women had been pulled into field work on the new vegetables:
we rarely came across a woman who stated that she felt incompetent to dis-
cuss farm or household affairs; in Patcia this was the most frequent re-
Chimachoy. 1980 was a bad. year for/ Cakchiquel village of about 100 families,
top of a mountain reached by wo' A ikC
located on/a barely passable dirt track. C"imachoy was the most negatively af-
fected.of the three villages by ALCOSA's 1980 "crisis of overproduction." After
several years of good returns, the town's farmers, already highly skilled ovege-
table growers, heeded ALCOSA's continual calls for more production. They cut
back on traditional food crops to expand their cauliflower production. So when
ALCOSA was hit with an unexpected torrent of cauliflower from its 17 grower vil-
lages in July.1980, and abruptly suspended its purchase, some 2/3 of Chimachoy
farmers were left with no viable outlet for their crop (1/3 were not then harvest-
ina). There was hunger, there was anger and there were drastic losses*
ALCOSA claimed it had to suspend purchases or go bankrupt, contracts aside; it
stabilized procedures after 1980-81,. avoiding further wholesale suspensions.
- 25 -
There was even an attempt to burn down ALCOSA's buying shed. Many of the villa-
gers were left with outstanding debts. The better off had been building concrete
block houses to replace their cane and straw huts, many with special loans, and many
of the poorer ones were paying installments on small purchases,
With respect to WID, what is significant is that (a) the women, who prev-
iously had helped in the fields only during planting, now were pulled into
2-3 days of horticultural labor on top of their normally over-burdened 'schedules.
As a result, they (b) had to cut back on their marketing trips to town, which
produced their only independently-controlled income. In consequence, (-c) Kus-
terer found them increasingly dependent on their husbands and with possibly de-
creased voice in household affairs. The question of the possible negative conse-
quences of the women's added labor and diminished financial independence was not
fully explored, however. Even so, it was clear that the women were working 2-3
days per week on the ALCOSA vegetables, and the ALCOSA payment came in the form
of a check (that had to be cashed in the nearest big town) made out solely to
the husband. In short, in Chimachoy, Kusterer found the situation that has become
a classic in the WID literature: a development project that increases women's
labor burden while (1) failing to give them a direct share of the new benefits and
(2) eroding their existing resource base. In the WID literature, such a scenario
often has been tied to lowered productivity and efficiency and even the failure of
the project itself. So what had happened to Chimachoy, the project and the women
Santiago Sacateoecuez. In 1980, this was the most successful of the three
villages with respect to the project. A Swiss-formed cooperative (.Cuatro Pinos)
dealt directly with ALCOSA on behalf of its 400+ members and in order to sell to
ALCOSA a farmer had to be a co-op member. Results have been exceptional:
The average farmer in Santiago has lower costs than his counterparts in
the other two towns, yields that are more than twice as high, proportions
of first-quality product that are 15% higher than Patzicia and 20% higher
than Chimachoy, and net income per unit of land that are many times higher
than elsewhere (1981:61).
As possible explanation,
/Kusterer cites the labor-intensive farming methods used on the small plots
(Santiago is only 20 km. from Guatemala City and on the fringe of suburban devel-
opment, so holdings are very tiny), better initial knowledge, and better advice
from the co-op's agronomists than that dispensed by ALCOSA's. Might there also
be a connection with the project's 1980 "WID status"?
Specifically,in 1980, Kusterer found that the women worked more as partners
than as helpers to the men. Although the ALCOSA vegetables were new, these women
already had an agricultural tradition. Moreover, in 1980, women seemed to be
sharing in direct benefits. Women were as likely as men to deliver product to
the co-op, and were frequently lined up with the men at the window where cash
payments were made. There had been a price: in addition to an added "double day"
burden, the women had to cut back on their formerly frequent marketing trips
(their main source of independently-controlled income)
to Guatemala City's main terminal market/ The extant to which women actually
shared in direct benefits,, and the consequences, had not been directly addressed
by Kusterer. Nevertheless, it was clear that Santiago women were getting more
direct benefits than wcnen in the other two villages. Questions for 1985 would
include how Santiago women were faring relative to their menfolk. Other ques-
tions would include the relative success of the project for (a) the co-op, and
(b) the people affected, both collectively and disaggregated by sex, class,
co-op membership, etc.
San Jose Pinula's processing olant workers. In 1980, some 85% of the perma-
nent workers and 100% of the seasonal ones were female. ALCOSA paid the mini-
mum wage and legally mandated benefits a far from universal practice among
Guatemalan employers. Moreover, during most of the year, ALCOSA works very long
shifts: 12 hours, and sometimes up to 16 hours during peak periods. As a result,
thi ALCOSA female employees made from 150-300% as much as they could have made in
market selling and domestic service, the two -ain alternatives, and as much as:
men can earn in the most common blue-collar occupations such as construction
labor, and much more than men can earn in the typical occupation of the out-
lying villages, farming, This ALCOSA wage is at least the equal of the nor-
mal family income of small-town blue-collar workers or village farmers(1981:9) .
In consequence, fully 95% of the ALCOSA women said that they were highly satis-
fied with their pay, jobs and lives as working women; and wanted to continue work-
ing indefinitely, regardless of any husband or children subsequently acquired.
"I -v P --,-4 /.> 9, %, W 21
Moreover, Kusterer found, (a) they retain ultimate control over their income
(not a single woman reported giving all of it to her husband), and, therefore, (bI
they have become empowered in their domestic relationships and decision-making.
Moreover, (c) they increased in independence, self-reliance, self-respect and
self-esteem (a change in self-image that "may be the most important and most posi-
tive of all" (1981:81)). Finally, (dl there were indications of a negative effect
In a nutshell, the Kusterer study had found the whole array of effects that
have been hypothesized in the WID literature (by myself included) as flowing from
an increase in women's independently controlled economic resources. Would the
same relatively high wage level prevail in 19857 Would the labor force still be
overwhelmingly female, by management policy? And if so, would these well-paid
women still manifest the same consequences? In other words, would there-be further
support for the WID hypotheses on the positive impact of significant increases in
women's relative economic resources?
To reiterate, the 1980 research had serendipitously covered four sites that
could be arranged in the following "WID progression": (1) women don't/participate
in project; project suffers 'Patzicia). (2) women work in project, but receive -.3
direct benefits while project erodes their existing resource base; women nega-
tively affected, project may be (Chimachoy). (3) women work in project, and
receive (at least some) direct benefits; despite some erosion of prior female
resource base, it appears that women, men, family and project all benefit (San-
tiago Sacatepequez). (4) women work in project, and receive substantial
direct benefits; their relative economic position rises vis-a-vis .menfolk and
family- and many consequences with respect to their family/gender power and
decision-making role, personal autonomy/independence, perceived self-confi-
dence and fertility behavior ensuae- while their increased resources enhance
the "basic human needs" of family members and get spread around the community
(San Jose Pinula ALCOSA processing plant). Although many other research is-
sues were investigated, following up on this basic "WID progression" or "natural
experiment" will be more than enough for this summary paper.
Before goin on to the methodology section, I must add a note on events
that occurred in Guatemala between 1980 and 1985, The most traumatic and sig-
nificant, without a doubt, is the 1981-1982 guerrilla/military war
that was fought, with great civilian loss of life, in several of the main
Indian areas. The Cakchiquel region was much affected, as were parts of the
Quiche-speaking region (Mayan Indians speak large numbers of quite distinct
dialects and languages). Following hard line tactics/policy, the military
succeeded in gaining the upper hand and putting down overt rebellion. Many
thousands disappeared or died. In addition, Guatemala's economy suffered
various setbacks and crises during the period. The Quetzal, which until re-
cently was pegged to the dollar (1:1), has fallen to nearly 3:1 to the dollar
on the "parallel market." Nonetheless, .relatively speaking, conditions-are now
much more stable than in 1981-1982.
B. Methodoloqg: Finding the Kusterer Research Team and Gettina the Data
Lic. Maria Regina Estrada de Batres, A Guatemalan anthropologist, had beer.
in charge of the San Jose Pinula research, and Josefina Xuya Cuxil, a bilingual
Cakchiquel-Spanish development/social promoter, had been in charge of Cakehi-
quel translations end interviews with women in the three villages. Her brother,
Jorge Xuya Cuxil, interviewed many of the male farmers in the villages. In
interviews in Washington, D.C., Kusterer gave me clues to finding the two women.
(~Ctv^ .Fir st I
/ sy prior letter produced a responding phone call and a meeting with Lic. Estrada
de Batres on my first day in Guatemala, We began a fruitful collaboration to
interview 30 plant employees (in 1980, she had interviewed 40) half from the
1980 group of employees, and half newcomers with two years or less with ALCOSA.
/tea search for Josefina Xuya Cuxil was another matter '(I thought of it as
a Central American version of the 1985 movie hit, "Desperately Seeking Susan,"
with "Josefina" substituted for "Susan"), Given the security situation in the
area of the villages, my trips to the countryside had to be individually cleared
and entailed an AID driver and, usually, an armored vehicle. The first foray
for Josefina located her family in the village Kusterer had named. But Josefina
proved to be doing development relief work in a remote village that had been
hard-hit by the 1981-82 violence and/in the process of joining the Sisters of
Charity as a nun. A second, day-long expedition to the village in question did,
indeed, locate her, but.not her superior, Ultimately, our request that she be
given permission to work on the research was granted by the Guatemala City head-
quarters of the order, after I made several visits to plead the case.
/Meanwhile, however, interviews were proceeding in ALCOSA workers' homes. "7
originally had been given permission by ALCOSA's manager to interview in the
plant itself but it was abruptly withdrawn half-way through our first day.
While this limited our access to overall company statistics, our interviews were
not affected. And while it added to the legwork, home interviews provide a much
stronger sense of level of well-being, We ended up with in-plant interviews with
the manager,his second-in-command, and the general supervisor (a woman), plus t-.
desired 30 employee interviews. Maria Regina de Batres ably did most of them.
The questionnaire used in the ALCOSA plant employee interviews replicated
a good deal of the 1980 instrument, while adding a variety of WID topics related
to the present research. Questions were a combination of open- and closed-end
items. Management interviews were open-ended discussions,
Open-ended discussions also were used in a fourth approach, interviews
with LAAD and AID officials who were familiar with the ALCOSA. project history.
Fifth, for the village interviews, a general questionnaire was written
for farm women and another for farm men. These, too, replicated the majority
of the items in the 1980 instrument, and added WID-related topics. Because
each village had certain unique angles, however, these were discussed with ap-
propriate open-ended questions tailored to the specific situation. Once again,
as in 1980, Jorge Xuya Cuxil helped interview male farmers, While most of the
men spoke good enough Spanish to be interviewed in that language (by either
Jorge or myself), a few were conducted by him in Cakchiquel. 'In the case of the
women, Josefina and I would canvass an area, decide if a given woman could be
interviewed in Spanish by me in which case shz would find a nearby case
to interview in Cakchiquel or necessitated a Cakchiquel interview. In that
instance, I would prospect for a male farmer or Spanish-speaking woman I could
much walking was involved.
interview nearby. Then we would rejoin forces and repeat the process. All told,,
By such relatively non-traditional means, we accumulated quite a lot of data,
Research "triangulation" methods were used to the greatest extent possible. As
checks, couples would sometimes be interviewed in each other's presence; whereas
in other instances, Jorge or I would interview the man separately, while Josefina
or I would interview the woman independently. Women's responses in the presence
of their menfolk (or even Jorge) tended to be more guarded and conventionally
submissive/traditional. In three particular topics fertility plans, intra-
household control of income, and work/earning patterns many instances where
the man and woman were interviewed separately produced discrepant responses.
In total, the four of us (although Maria Regina never went to the three high-
lands villages and Josefina and Jorge never went to San Jose Pinula). interviewed
a total of 101 ALCOSA female plant employees and present/former ALCOSA growers
of both sexes. The breakdown is as follows:
TABLE 5 '
INTERVIrES: MEN WOMEN TOTAL
A. Patzicia 13 10 23
B. Chimachoy '8 10 18
C. Santiago Sacatepequez 13 17* 30
D. San Jose Pinula 30 30
34 67 101
*Here, 11 were interviewed at a group meeting
Finally, in between the field work with other members of the team, I also
spent much of two days interviewing key informants in the Santiago cooperative,
Cuatro Pinos. I had lengthy discussions with the top professional/technical
staff person (who had organized the co-op), the head of the Swiss-funded "social
program," and its two women home economists/promotors (one of whom conducted an
additional group meeting on my behalf, using my prepared list of topics/questions
with women from an outlying Santiago village). I also had briefer discussions
with other co-op staff and met its president. One visit was timed to permit par-
ticipant observation at the weekly payday for co-op members who had delivered
product during the preceding week.
The findings that follow were discussed with members of the research team,
and in two briefings with AID officials (one for ROCAP and one for the Guatemala
Mission). Their suggestions and discussion were solicited and gratefully accepted.
Time and space considerations, however, permit only a skeleton presentation of result
C. Patzicia: a Case of Economics Eroding Cultural Traditions re Women's Work?
In their 1980 interviews, Ken Kusterer and Josefina and Jorge Xuya had found
no female participation in agriculture. In our 1985 interviews, we found a
considerable degree of female involvement in the single most labor-intensive,
time-sensitive operation: harvesting. Harvesting of both cauliflower and broc-
coli extendsover a two-month period Cat different times of the year) and typi-
cally is done three times a week. Of the 23 people interviewed, we tried to get
about half 1980 ALCOSA grower families and half newer people. The newer fam-
ilies were located near the main Pan American Highway, and most of the older ones
were found in the town itself. Although newer families seemed a bit more likely
to blaim the wife's participation in agriculture, there were 13 of 23 cases where
the woman was described as working (in one case, just "a little"). Of the 10
women, five said they worked in cultivation/harvesting and five said they didn't.
Of the 13 men, 8 said the wife worked in the fields (including the case of "a
little"). One man was a bachelor and three men said no. So did a fourth man -
by far the most prosperous man interviewed Ithe extended family lived in a two-
story, two-vehicleSmodern mddle-class home) but his wife, in a separate inter-
----*---- -_ o ...... .. .. l^'^ ^ ^ ,. ^ ^ V I.*'7 nC .4,
view, tsld me a different story. Her UsA response to the question was to deny
that she did field work. But under further probes (.what about during the broccoli
harvest: do you ever help out with the cutting (el corte)?), she said that she
did. Three days a week, in fact and for both the broccoli and cauliflower har-
vests. Her children also helped when they weren't in school. And no, field work
was something she had never done before they began growing the ALCOSA vegetables.
Yes, it was a good deal of extra work, but the family benefitted economically...
She did not sell in the market, she said, and had no outside source of income what-
soever. Meanwhile, her husband had told Jorge that his wife dedicated herself
exclusively to her home and children.
The best clue to the situation comes from the five people (three men and two
women) who explicitly told us that the woman's involvement in field work has oc-
curred just since they began growing ALCOSA vegetables. As mentioned, these are
more labor-intensive than traditional crops and ALCOSA's standards are very ex- '-
acting and their days for accepting product predetermined at each location where
they operate. It appears that over time, the earlier participants are placing
economic criteria over cultural convention or perhaps are no longer contracting
with ALCOSA. Newer participants may be-.willing to be more flexible about women's
work (or be drawn from a different segment of the municipality. All this re-
quires more rigorous follow-up than proved possible with our limited time,
But the bottom line is a changed picture from 1980. In 13/23 cases (or 13/22
if the bachelor is eliminated over half the interviews women were described
as working in ALCOSA field work.
From the standpoint of the broader WID research, Patzicia also provided support
to another hypothesis. In 12 cases with data (9 women --the 10th woman is a single
)- NC j -- ,"
farmer who has an ALCOSA contract in her own name and 3 menl, a relationship
emerged between the woman having independent income and the man consulting with
her on household decisions.' The income was derived from marketing and in most in-
stances merely contributed to "el gasto" the household subsistence expenses
deemed to be women's domain. But if a woman made a material contribution to this
subsistence budget, in those cases where we had data, it got her some degree of
consultation in decision-making. Nevertheless, ohly a few individuals claimed
that decisions were "mutual." In cases of "consultation," the husband takes the
wife's input before making his decision.
Overall, we had no cases of women too timid to voice an opinion. In cases of
joint interview, however, the man dominated the conversation. And while we found
of the three villages
the women of Patzicia to be the most dependent and male-dominated/ the impression
and less submissiveness
of 1985 was of more openness/than Jorge and Josefina described of 1980.
Also relevant from both the standpoint of WID hypotheses and the human
angle is the case of a Ladina woman whose family had arrived only nine months
before. It.indicates that: (a) it is independently controlled income rather
than mere work in production that is more important in determining household
power and decision-making leverage, and C(b how quickly a woman's position
relative to her husband can erode in the face of abrupt economic change.
We sit on chairs by her hearth. Her pots and pans are nice and "contrast
with her new adobe, mud-floored home. Her husband had lost his job Cwork-
ing in surveying in Guatemala City, inherited a small plot of land from
his father, and moved the family to try their luck growing vegetables for
ALCOSA on a farm near the Pan American Highway, She had always worked in
the city (usually as a domestic) and felt that her income gave her more
independence and household power (voz y voto "voice and vote") there.
Previously he had given her the money for "el gasto" and decisions were
mutual. Here, although the initial decision to plant for ALCOSA was mu-
tual, she works three days a week in the fields, has no outside income,
and now he makes the decisions: how much to spend on food, clothes,
school expenses, etc. She would like to have some sort of business
(market commerce) here, but she has no one to take care of the younger
of her 6 children. Fertility? No more children her husband has de-
cided that it is now too expensive. Meanwhile, she and her children
work harder and longer than ever before.
D. Chimachoy: A Few Discreet Words
Initially, Josefina, Jorge and I arrived in Chimachoy on an exceptionally
clear morning. The volcanoes of Acatenango and Water loomed in the foreground
and background, respectively. The view was one of the few things that hadn't
changed. Briefly, Chimachoy was a victim of the 1981-1982 violence. Except
for a very small number of cane and straw houses that are still inhabited,
the previous location of the village is mainly deserted. The walls of some
cement block houses remain at the old site. But the tin from their roofs now,
we were told, tops some of the roofs of the new cane and pressboard houses
where up to 60 remaining families now live, in a new colony located just before
the point where the road to old Chimachoy frequently became impassable. There
are around 40 widows, and the people of Chimachoy are very hard-pressed economi-
cally. ALCOSA hasn't operated in the village since 1981, although a small num-
- 34 -
- 35 -
ber of farmers manage to haul their product to the municipality seat, San Andres
Itzapa, where ALCOSA has a buying shed. It's a difficult trip, however, and
few have ALCOSA contracts,
Subsequently, we were accompanied by AID officials. All told, we inter-
viewed 10 women and 8 men. Most interviews were done in Cakchiquel,. although
one articulate widow spoke eloquent Spanish, Most say that since ALCOSA left,
the women work less in the fields. Several of the men would like to see ALCOSA
come back to the village. The widows cultivate a bit, do day farm lab6r, or weave.
The overriding problem is subsistence, The houses contain almost nothing.
in the way of furniture (e.g., no beds) and store-bought items; they have dirt
floors. People went through a lot since the 1980 study. Iti'E B4 ee i
E, Santiago Sacatepecuez: the Cooperative Flourishes but Policy Chances Hinder Wcmer
Santiago is a different world from Chimachoy, Its story is complex, but from
the WID standpoint, the outline is simple: the cooperative has expanded and gained
in expertise and economic leverage. It now exports directly to the US. via
brokers and ALCOSA was only one factor in the Q1,000,000 (then still worth a million
U.S, dollars) it sold last year. As the cooperative has grown and bureaucratized,
its dedicated professional staff have changed some of the earlier policies. One
change is that there are now three days a week when product may be delivered to
the co-op's impressive physical plant. But there is only one day a week when the
members are paid for deliveries. And since an incident in 1983 (more below), the
co-op has strongly requested that the person who comes for the payoff be the co-cc
member. The number of women co-op members was not clear:- somewhere between 2 and
8 of the 580 members (about 500 of them active). And since 1984, the payoff is
usually given in the form of a check made out exclusively to the member. Cni__k-
In short, the 1980 situation whereby women were seen sharing in the direct
benefits is gone. Under the new system, many women don't know how much their
member husbands received, thereby further weakening their claim to a share.
Co-op professional staff the founder/chief technical advisor, the head of the
Swiss-funded "social program" and his two female home economists, among others -
agree that the position of the women has deteriorated and they are now more de-
pendent on their husbands. As we shall see, the women of Santiago Sacatepequez
have a long history as skilled horticulturalists, and most co-op wives are re-
ported to be heavily involved in all phases of ALCOSA vegetable production, But
there is less time and space on their small parcels threatened by encroaching
suburbanization to grow the traditional horticultural crops Which women have
traditionally sold Cat least partly for their own gain) in the Guatemala City
market. And with the ALCOSA-type vegetables earmarked for sale to the co-op,
where women's direct access to gains is now choked off, they are now doubly dis-
advantaged while working at least as hard as ever, Based on their typical
3-4 days a week of field work, could women be made co-op members in their own
right, along with their husbands? Unthinkable, according to the head of the "social
program." In his opinion, the men would never allow it. In Guatemalan co-ops,
there has been only one member from a household the head, who bears official
financial responsibility. Unfortunately, this particular interview occurred at
the end of my stay in Guatemala, too late to go back to Santiago and do another
round of interviews with both men and women to elicit their reaction to the possibil-
ity that wives be admitted to membership, and hence the host of benefits provided
by the co-op.
S In terms of WID "lessons learned," what we have here indicates: (a) the im-
portance of delivery channels as gatekeeper mechanisms affecting women's access to
benefits, (b) how fast the balance can tip against women -when someone is not con-
tinuously "riding herd" on institutional policies and procedures as they differen-
tially affect each gender; and (c) the finding, frequent in the development liter-
ature, that benefits especially valuable ones have a tendency to be distri-
buted on the basis of relative -ower and privilege, i.e., "trickle up" over time.
This has been noted in a number of instances where the initial target group
were those on the bottom of the class pyramid, And a parallel finding has
emerged in the WID literature: even where they initially obtain benefits, it
is difficult for women to retain them if they are valuable,
The incident that triggered the policy change, I finally learned, involved
a woman's claim to have been shorted Q200. The co-op paid, alleging that she
was mistaken (her husband had been away attending a co-op-sponsored conference,
and he threatened to call in all authorities, including military, it seems). I
also learned that the following year there was a reorganization and resignations
imong. accounting personnel. Female illiteracy was then used as the general
rationale for requiring husbands to pick up the money (although, as skilled
market sellers, women's numeracy is not in question Men, women and staff all
mentioned the problem of female illiteracy when asked about the policy change.
I never learned if the woman in question was literate or not.
But the erosion of women's position predates the Q200 incident: as their
labor burden increased with the more profitable, guaranteed-sold co-op vegetable
crops, women had both less time and less reason to sell traditional crops in the
market. Although my interview data from the men and women of Santiago indicate.
that the women still have some voice in agricultural decisions, the two home
economists think it is less:
Before the women in the villages (whose access to the market has been more
curtailed than the women of the town of Santiago itself) were more inde-
pendent and sold surplus crops in the market. They had a voice in what to
plant because they knew what sold best. Now that the co-op buys, the men
make the economic decisions.
The head of the "social programI concurs and adds;
The participation of the woman has fallen with the cooperative...Now her
knowledge has been affected. She has lost a certain independence and the
taking of household decisions.
Tulio Garcia, the founder of the c-op, shares in the assessment of women's
deteriorated position and notes that there is less improvement in home and basic :
human needs" consumption including diet/nutrition than in economic consumption.
Men save for scarce and ever-more expensive land. There are many big-ticket items
such as pickup trucks among the better off members. But there is still malnutri-,
tion; in fact, a new INCAP study will look into the problem among the people of
There are two ironies involved here. First, a stratification seems to be
emerging between co-op members and non-members in the town of Santiago and its
seven villages and the co-op members are increasingly being seen as the rising
stratum. Second, the programs being aimed at both "the women" and "the problem
with health and nutrition" are of the most traditional home economics sort.
(In keeping with the "trickle up" hypothesis, though, the three people chosen by
the village leaders to be trained by the co-op as health/nutrition promoters are -
not the requested two women and one man; rather, three rather well-off young men
were named on the grounds that they can more easily get away for the four weeks
The Swiss-funded "social program" promotes women's groups of the sort I wit-
nessed at a group meeting in Pachall, one of the seven villages, Eleven females,
mostly well-dressed adolescent girls, attended a cike-bRig-dmemonstration by the
home economists. The cake was baked in a modern stove donated by a U.N. agency.
None of the families have anything like it.
An elderly widow who is a co-op member (one of 2 she knows about) said that
a previous women's group started with 22 members but soon only 6 were-left.
They had many domestic arts demonstrations but the women wanted something
with more economic potential.
This women's group composition (mostly young girls) corroborates the frequent
experience of other home economics-oriented "women's projects." Older women with
more obligations and less time need income. They don't come or long remain -
with such groups. Also echoing the experience of other such programs are the
attitudes of both the home economists and the head of the social program they
really would like to find a more income-oriented program that would increase
female involvement and well-being. But such economic activities are not easily.
found. /(And-meanwhile, attendance at their meetings is low: the women in the
villages, whose marketing and relative position have dropped off more sharply,must
now ask permission of reluctant husbands even to attend meetings; the women of
the town of Santiago itself, who still carry a crushing burden of heavy farm work
and frequent marketing trips to Guatemala City market, have no time for such
Aside from a tiny bakery project the women of one village have launched, the
only other economic activity idea that surfaced is a bee-keeping project. Origi-
nally, the co-op was investigating bee-keeping for the men, but decided they were
too busy. Since their understanding is that bee-keeping takes only one morning
a week (an underestimati&when hives are in full production, I've been told, they
felt that this could be added to the women's schedules. Then, the co-op would
market the honey. This would give the women both direct access to income and,
perhaps, the boon of co-op membership in their own right: as bee-keepers on a
part-time basis, not as farmers on a year-round basis,
My interviews with. the men. showed their support for an activity that provided
income to their wives. And the interviews also revealed that although hours worked
in agriculture has gone up for women since the co-op, most claimed they had always
cultivated. Nevertheless, co-op technical assistance was directed to the male
members, thereby confirming another of the most frequent "WID lessons learned":
even where women are traditional farmers, it's the men who overwhelmingly get the
training and extension help, (Kathy Staudt has written extensively on this, for
Having given an overview picture of the major women in development problems
that have emerged with the Santiago co-op since the 1980 study, let me conclude
by showing just how successful the cooperative has been as an enterprise.
- 40 -
As mentioned, in 1984, the co-op sold a million dollars worth of product.
Their plans for 1985 are to ship 3,500,000 pounds of product, revolving around
*four principal crops: 54-- i 'Trtt-, "^iv.; -'-;-
*In 1984, average
PROFIT ANTIC. PRO- DESTINATION
LEVEL DUCTION (LBS.)
highest* 1,500,000# 75%-Miami broker; other 'export=25%
(Los Angeles, New York, London)
2d best 750,000 50%-ALCOSA; 50%-other Guatemalan
firm (e.g., CIUSA)-none for export
3d best 1,000,000 50%-ALCOSA, 50%-direct export with
new U.S. broker
dropped growing season too long
new 200,000 100%-Miami broker.
selling price was US $1.00-$1.20/' ., but fluctuation is great
A new venture is parsley, which fetches Q8.75/kilo, dried, for the co-op, It is
sold to Maggi (Nestle) and Paviera (Green Giantl in Guatemala for soups, and
The co-op has become a large employer. It has 30 permanent employees,
and from July to February, employs about 100-125 people as packers. Of these,
2/3 are women and 1/3 are men. (A brief experiment, tried last year by the co-op
directors, ended in failure. Disturbed by the "constant talking" and "romances"
of the women employees, they fired them, and put in all men employees. Produc-
tion nose-dived so sharply that they fired the men after only one week and hired
back the women who continued to be high producers and talkative at the same
time. The directors now view packing as "women's work" because of the women's
allegedly greater manual dexterity and tolerance of the boring routines)
Moreover, its members have become employers as well. The average member
employs one essentially full-time, year-round (or, for a minimum of 9 months)
agricultural laborer. The variance is from 0 to 4 such full-time employees.
And while income figures for members are a little vague, average yearly income
seems to be up to Q3,000, with the most successful members making perhaps '*
Q10,000 per year. In fact, the co-op has become enough of a factor in Santiago
to affect market prices in the traditional horticultural crops (such as carrots,
cabbage, beets, potatoes): since co-op members are growing less to the detri-
ment of their wives' economic independence there is less of a supply, and the
fluctuation in price is down while the lowest price (peak season) has risen.
Finally, spurred by the success of the co-op, other highlands farmers are planting
what Tulio Garcia estimates to be 4,000-5,000 manzanas (1 manzana=0.7 hectare)
of the new, non-traditional horticultural crops that the co-op specializas in,
These are grown for export via ALCOSA and several newer (and still shaky) firms,
How quickly and how much the co-op has grown and the position of the women
has deteriorated. Further analysis and, probably, further field study, is
needed to draw all the lessons learned from the Santiago Sacatepequez experience.
F. The Women ALCOSA Plant Workers of San Jose Pinula: WID Paradise Perceived?
To summarize large volumes of data, the situation of the women processing
ctory employees-is at least as good as in 1980, when it was terrific.
Income remains high as the result of the long shifts and not a single
woman claimed she was less than satisfied with the work. Much of the satisfaction
continues to emphasize the economic side, which continues to have strong riper-
cussions on the women's power and decision-making leverage in their households.
The proportion of women who are married has gone up since 1980, but there is
still not a single woman who turns over all her pay to her husband.
The big news is the strong confirmation of the first fertility trends noted
in 1980: fertility seems strongly curbed by ALCOSA employment. Almost half (14/.
the sample say they won't have more children: and they have only 2.6 at a median --:&
of 33.5. In fact, the 30 women (all age 18-39) average only 1.3 children.
Let us first look at the women who'are "1980 veterans." Their median age
is 32.5 years. They have an average of 2.2 children each. Ten of the 15 gave
to a total of 13 children
birth/since 1980 3 women had 2 children each and 7 had one additional child
each. Now, 7 of the 15 say they will not have any more children. These 7 have
a median age of 37 and have produced an average of 2.3 children. -By the stan-
dards of Guatemalan fertility, these figures reflect a remarkably low level of
childbearing. Compare them, for example, with the data for Patzicia, the only onr
of the three villages with a substantial Ladina population. There, data were
collected on the fertility of 20 women (including one single woman of 36 'who was
a childless full-time farmer with her own ALCOSA contract). Their median age
was 33.5 (vs. 32.5 for the 15 women ALCOSA veteranss" .. But whereas the 15 workers
averaged 2.2 children each, the 20 Patzicia women averaged 5.2 (5.5 excluding thf
woman ALCOSA contractor).
FERTILITY COMPARISONS: ALCOSA EMPLOYEES (N-30) 20 PATZICIA 0
1980 NEER TOTAL +
(N-15) (C=15) GROUP
Median Age 32.5 26.0 29.0 33.5
Mean No. of Children 2.2 15 1.8 5.
Won't Have More: 47% 47% 47% No Info
Median Age 37.0 31.0 33.5
Mean No. of Children 2.3 3.0 2.6
Furthermore, a total of 9 of the 30 women are single and childless: 1 of the
15 1980 veterans (age 30) and 8 of the 15 newer employees. The median age of
these 9/women (30% of the 30) is 24 years: another extraordinary statistic by
Let us now compare the 1985 data with the 1980 data for marital status, for
another perspective on fertility patterns of the female ALCOSA plant workers .
- 43 -
MARITAL/FERTILITY STATUS 1985 DATA 1980 DATA
OF ALCOSA 0 WORKERS: 1980 VE- NEWER TOTAL TOTAL
+ TERANS GROUP -
(N-15) (N=-15) (N301 (N=42)
Married, w/ children 47% 20% 33% .21%
Single, no children 7 53 30 38
Single, widowed, divorced 46 27 37 40
with children: 100% 100% 100% 100%
Single, w/ children 27%) 7%) 17%1
) ) I
Div. 13 )46% 7 )27% 10 )37%
) 1 )
Widow. 7 13 ) 10 )
In Table 8 we see that the 1985 data indicate that women who remained with ALCOSA
C the "1980 veterans," the key group, have indeed been "at risk," A much higher
proportion are married: 47% vs. 21% of the Kusterer 1980 sample and 20% of the
newer 1985 employees. Only 7% of the "1980 veterans" remain childless. The big
news is that although these women are reproducing, they are doing so in moderation.
Although 10 of these 15 women had 13 babies since 1980, not one woman has more than
two children under 5; and, of course, 5/15 had none. These "1980 veterans" are
young enough to have had considerably more children: they range from 25-39. The
median age for the 10 who had babies since 1980 is 30, vs, 34 for the 5 who didn't
(Since the 1985 sample is not random and is quite small, these data may not be
generalizable to the full universe in question.)
Two..related points should be mentioned. First, the quite low fertility of
these women factory workers is related to the hich costs they experience for
children both financial and personal. For example, 10 of the 21 women in the
total 1985 sample who have children mention that they pay for childcare (6 to r..a-
tiyes and 4 6 employees. In fact, all the women who gave reasons for not inten-
ding to have more children mentioned economic costs as a factor.
A single mother of 3 summed it up, After talking about her childcare has-
sles, the current economic crisis, her long shifts and her struggles, her
response to the question of having more babies was almost a wail: "Aaaay,
how much these children have cost me!"
/single or married, these women have considerably more leverage to realize
their fertility preferences than most of the farming women in tie'three villages.
There, a frequent complaint from women with many children who were economically
dependent on their husbands was that she didn't want more but he did, so she
would have to continue having babies,
The only case among the ALCOSA factory women that seems initially similar
reveals some significant differences,
The 32-year-old mother of 7 had more children than anyone else of the 30
interviewed (only one other had more than 4 children, in fact). Her young-
est were 3 and 2, More children? "I don't want to but because my husband
wants them I have to continue.." Do you use any birth control method? "No,
I am afraid of them." This was also the woman whose husband was most strong-
ly opposed to her working, Yet she has steadfastly refused tm quit. (She
began in 1980), She gives her husband nothing from her pay. Her money has
given her independence: "before I worked I wasn't allowed to go anywhere and
he used'to humiliate me," Now he just gives her children.
The second point can be stated more explicitly. These women make an income
high enough to support their family on their own, if they so choose. They keep
any part of
independent control of that income (only two newlyweds even pool/their income
with their husbands). And their income gives them mower in-their personal re-
lationships with spouses, parents and children. It also gives them more.leverace
in household decision-makine: not only in economic matters, but also in domestic
affairs and in fertility behavior. In short, their/income from production Cives
them decision-makina cower over.-heir reproduction. The decision to have further
children was hers in 65% of the cases with data (13/20), primarily hers in another
5%, mutual in a further 10%, never discussed in 5%, and principally the male's .n
- 45 -
The economic basis of these women's household power came out repeatedly in
the interviews. For example:
One 37-year-old woman's common-law husband is. an agricultural day laborer
who therefore earns very little. She has been with ALCOSA since its
beginning in-I975 and 3 of her 4 children are "ALCOSA babies" (ages 7, 4
and 2). A servant does the housework and childcare. She makes' well. over.
75% (the top category) of total family income and pays not only for the
household expenses ("el gasto"1 and the servant but also for some of her
husband's agricultural expense. However, she gives nothing of her salary
to him, controlling it all herself. She feels more independent and self-
confident, and receives more respect from her husband since she works for
.ALCOSA. She also has more power in the household as a result: "One has one's
resources and says 'I can buy and do.'" Most tellingly,. she now feels that
the woman is superior to the man and at any rate : "I am superior: I brine
in the money and he takes me into account. If he wants to do something, he
consults me first."
While the final quote is more blatant, in asserting her money-based power than
in other interviews, the patterns described in the above quote aze.-found in much
of the sample. Let us examine some of the aggregate statistics.
93% of both the "1980 veterans" and the newer employees are "very satisfied/
93% of the sample (87% of the veterans and 100% of the newer workers) want
to continue indefinitely with ALCOSA (83% even if they have more children).
On~ti 3%- (1 person) does all her housework; the others have delegated it to
paid or unpaid other women or their children. This contributes to the iext:
Given the standard 72-hour work week (that often goes over 80 hours) for
the greater part of the year, hote that only 20% consider total workload "~x-
cessive;" in contrast, 47% find it "supportable" and 33% find it "comfor-
table." CTotal workload includes both ALCOSA and household labor.)
-Specifically, hours worked at ALCOSA are greater than their last job in 66;
of the cases, equal in 14% and less in 19% all domestic servants
Economic contribution/control of income:
None of the women's income is less than 25% of total household income;
23% from 25%- 50% "
40% 504- 75% "
37% over 75% (usually 100%) of total income.
In 83% of the cases, the woman herself decides how she wants to spend her
- 46 -
Parents vs. husbands although dnly 30% of the women fail to give something
of their income to their parents (in 66% of the cases to the mother), in
only two cases of newlyweds did the women pool any of their income with
their husbands. (Of 9 cases of "pooling" income,only 1 put it all in.)
SHow ALCOSA income has changed their economic situation:
Previous to ALCOSA, 37% reported that their economic situation was desperate:
Now, however, 70% have been able to make purchases beyond subsistence-level
needs (e.g., furniture, appliances, etc.).
All told, 87% report that their lives have chanced~ Economic/income .was the
overwhelming response to this item, with greater liberty second most fre-
Confirming this, 87% report their economic situation to have improved, and
13% state that it stayed the same not one person reported a.. decline.
How ALCOSA/income has chanced their self-cercention and perception by others:
82% report greater self-confidence than before. Many offered economic reasons,
e.g., "I have the money to back me up."
80% report greater independence (53% give explicitly economic reason for
67% report greater respect on the part of family members again, economic
reasons are sometimes offered spontaneously.
(Note: the statistics given in this aggregate view are compiled from preliminary
tabulations by Maria Regina de Batres; they will be cleaned and checked for the
final paper on the research.)
A final word on the impact of ALCOSA employment. Since the plant employs close
to 300 women during most of the year (75-85% of the labor force; I was given two
figures for total employment by the ALCOSA second-in-command in two separate inter-
views), there has been a spread effect of their wages, Not only do the women pay
for childcare, a somewhat smaller proportion pay for housework and/or laundry.
Local women sell foods to the ALCOSA workers who come out to the factory gate
during their lunch or breaks. And there is now a definite rental market for
rooms something that was in the most rudimentary stage in the 1980 research.
Several buildings that I saw during the course of one day's interviews in the tow.
center of San Jose Pinula seemed to have been recently constructed for that
purpose. They are one-story affairs that have a string of rooms with separate
outside entrances along an entrance passageway. Other rentable quarters are
now found in private homes or their back "courtyards."
By the standards of ALCOSA's parent company, Hanover Brands, its labor
practices and wages relative to the/legal minimum probably would not be any-
thing unusually favorable. But for women in Guatemala and especially for
women in a town caught between farming and urban/industrial growth, ALCOSA
and its jobs represent a rare opportunity. Supervisors can afford to be very
strict about "the right attitudes" (although this emerged as an implicit
rather than an explicit demand in the interviews) since there are-lots-of local
women who would be all too pleased to work for ALCOSA. Parents (mostly mothers)
who sat in on the interviews of their daughters mentioned their hopes that other
daughters could eventually find employment. In 1980, the jobs were viewed more
ambivalently by some parents because of the "fast" reputation of the well-dressed
and quite independent young women. At that time, about one-fourth of the 1980
sample had changed their household arrangements more to their own liking, and
only a fifth of the sample was married. In 1985, 27% of the 30 women interviewed
are female heads of household, but the proportion married is higher in this group.
Is ALCOSA's impact stabilizing or disrupting women's domestic arrangements?
Since all the statistics presented above are based on a non-random sample of only
about 11% of the current ALCOSA labor force, no inference is possible. (And a
reminder is given that the 1985 statistics/cannot be inferred to the total ALCOSA
female labor force.) This is a topic worth more rigorous field follow-up, since
in a traditional double-standard country like Guatemala, the notion that economic
improvement for women leads to the disintegration of their families could be a
strong disincentive for encouraging female employment in ALCOSA-type/level of return.
jobs. nevertheless, the oresent 285 data do not .nunport a famil-' disi.nteqerati-.n./
In sum, by the standards of women's work in Guatemala, the women of ALCOSA
have found a very positive situation, By the standards of the four research
sites, this is now the only one that provides direct benefits to women, and
the consequences seem, if anything, to be more positive than in 1980. It may
not be a "WID paradise," but the situation of the ALCOSA. womn. interviewed
does provide a treasure trove of (prelirsnary) support for many ke/' WIEr
hypotheses. But in order to nail these down, subsequent research on the
impact of ALCOSA not only would have to involve a more rigorous sample of females,
it should/include a sample of males: the "significant others" of the ALCOSA women,
to directly assess what the women say about these men and their attitudes.
G. A Fast Report Card on the "Natural Exoeriment" and "WID Lessons Learned."
The situation in 1985 proved very different than that which prevailed in
the four research sites in 1980. No longer is there a clear-cut progression
that can be labelled: "WID effects from low to high." But much has been learned.
First, in Patzicia,/the substantial incorporation of women in cultivation
(even if it was somehow a sampling fluke, which it doesn't appear to be: women
now working in the harvest include Ladina and Cakchiquel, older and younger,
poorer and "comfortable," residents of the town of Patzicia itself and those who
live on its farthest outskirts near the Pan American Highway). That :hat was
seen in 1980 as such a stubborn and indeed inexplicable "culturil +raditien"
was so substantially and raoidl.y breached must be viewed as significant. ts
significance is both positive and negative. On the positive side, it indicates
that "the dead hand of tradition" will not/sustain a gender-related practice
that has become economically counter-productive. (If it is merely less produc-
tive, and the people have enough of a cushion of surplus to tolerate some inef-
ficiency in the name of preserving the comfortable status quo, the gender-related
practice probably will survive.) On the negative side, it indicates that positi--
(from the WID perspective) gender-related practices may also be quickly under-
mined. Such undermining cancoma from unplanned or very macro-level economic
transformations and trends. Or it can occur as the unintended consequence of
institutional policy shifts and/or choice of delivery channels (e.g., what
happened in Santiago Sacatepequez, as will be reviewed below). But:either way,
the lesson learned is that the relative position of women vis-a-vis men, work,
and resources is much more volatile than is often thought to be the case.
A second point about the emergence of female participation in cultivation
in Patzicia is that work, per se, can be cashed in for -few "WID prizes." Slaves,
workers and peasants have long labored in the major productive activities of
their milieu without inheriting the earth or much of anything else. So the
women of Patzicia are not likely to find that their work in harvesting brings
them much more leverage in major household economic decisions or much more
status (vis-a-vis males) in the local community. But work in production does
seem to be a first step on an often long and problematic journey whereby women
gain a share in productive resources (or at least that universal solvent, income).
And the data from all the various research sites indicate support for the
proposition that women's relative degree of independent control of economic re-
sources/income is (a) more important than "mere work" in (b) affecting their
degree of control over their own lives, and (c) using this control to enhance
Their family's as well as their own well-being.
Meanwhile, the women of Patzicia are working harder than ever before but are
justifying it (vs. bemoaning their "double day" load) on the grounds that it's OK
because it enhances family welfare. So they see themselves as contributing more,
and thus far they seem to feel good and a bit more important as Z result.
In Chimachoy, the problem has shifted drastically: from concern about an
apparently uncompensated "double day" (the Patzicia women's emergent situation) ZC
concern about survival. At the moment, all other research. questions are off.
Among the lessons learned of Santiago Sacatepequez is that keeping bene-
fits channelled to an underdog population (ethnic, gender, class, or whatever
requires a good deal of "help from their friends." If the underdog population ,
does not have an advocate who can assess the impact of even ostensibly "mere
procedural" changes, their chances of keeping such benefits over time probably
are not good. Wny? In addition to apparently innocuous policy and procedural
changes that turn out to be anything but Le.g., the suspension of the Solidarity
Group component in the Dominican Republic ADEMI project described in Part II, as
well as the shift in payment policy and procedures in the Santiago cooperative),
there will probably also be some outright attempts to coopt or coerce those re-
sources out of the hands of the underdog population. "The ideal situation is
one where it is in the interests of the non-underdog population to keep certain
benefits among the more vulnerable group. One obvious scenario is to head off
social explosion. But since women are rarely perceived as constituting an immed-
late/threat to the government palace or its private sector counterparts, that
Will rarely be a Wi scenario. A more probable one is that which emerged in both
Santiago Sacatepequez and San Jose Pinula's ALCOSA plant: women were hired (or re-
hired in the case of the Santiago Cuatro Pinos co-op) as the preferred labor force
because they are seen as more productive as well as more tractable in certain
tasks. A WID lesson is how more such "win-win" scenarios can be developed/adopted.
Since the evidence of a direct connection between women's independent control
of resources and enhancement of their self-confidence, independence, /ecision-
making power, is so prevalent in the four research sites, only more rigorous
specification would seem to be at issue. This will be attempted in the final reports
Accordingly, as time and space for this/paper run out, let me close by under-
lining the link between women's economically-derived leverage and their ability
realize their particular utilities in fertility outcomes. In this study, as in
many (but not all) others, women's fertility preferences seemed to be lower than
that of many of their husbands. The fact that the ALCOSA women /\ have regula-
ted their fertility at such modest levels for women of such modest education and.
.other fertility "determinants" is important. (Incidentally, 10% of the 1985 ALCCSA
sample is illiterate, 45% have 1-3 years of education, 33% have 4-6 years, and
only 10% have 7 or more years of schooling.) Once again, it shows that changes
often viewed as culturally embedded and glacially slow can come rapidly if
there is enough of a change in the underlying economic costs/benefits. And
fertility is clearly more costly to these women now. .It is also more costly
to many developing countries, and-women continue to have 100% of the world's
babies...Maybe :here is another case for a "win-win" scenario where the in-
terests of "mainstream" and women in development goals coincide. -
Further codification of the-lessons of the Dominican Republic and Guatemala
will be attempted in the final papers on each research project.