Translated by Eleanor Crossley
Dominga De la Cruz Gómez, Claudia Gómez Pérez, and a group of indigenous Tzotzil [Maya] women from the municipality of San Juan Chamula, Chiapas – most of them mothers – gained a victory over the sexist macho culture which limits them to household tasks and looking after the children by completing their middle school education studies at the School for Adult Education (IEA) in June.
However, when they approached the assembly in Nichnamtic, their home town, to request the use of community facilities to host a graduation party, they were met with opposition and refusal from the local authorities.
According to the public denunciation made by Dominga, Claudia and their classmates, the Chairman of the Drinking Water Board, Domingo Gómez Díaz, said during a meeting held at the community basketball court on the 26th of May:
“that it was shameful for pregnant women to be studying, that they are only good for the kitchen and that under no circumstances would said graduation ceremony take place.”In addition to their request for a space to hold their graduation, the women, who were taught by María Gómez Gómez, an indigenous woman and technical teaching college graduate, stated that they had completed their studies thanks to effort and dedication.
“We are a group of 67 women, mostly housewives and workers with few economic resources.”For this reason, they believe that the group of men in their community who do not want them to continue studying should not be an obstacle to their achievement. They demanded that the state government “guarantee Article 3 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to education.”
They are calling for Governor Manuel Velasco Coello’s
“support and intervention, as we know that there are currently programs in place which aim to tackle educational barriers (…). We should be treated equally. As well as being working mothers and looking after the home, we decided to study on our own, because we do not want to be ignorant and illiterate.
“What we desire with all our hearts is to be able to give our children a future and improve our quality of life, but in our community there are people who, using force and stirring up our husbands and most of the community against us, declare that education is pointless, and that our place should be limited to the kitchen or working the fields, and this is why we are humbly calling upon the government to protect our constitutional rights.”Among the men they say who oppose women of the community studying are Domingo Gómez, the Administrative Agent Marcelo Hernández López, and the former Mayor, Manuel Gómez Castellanos.
The Secretariat of Government Relations, the Attorney General, the Secretariat of Education, and other state government institutions received the women’s complaint.
In a study on indigenous women in Los Altos de Chiapas, the Center for Economic and Political Research for Community Action (Ciepac) stated that, at present,
“the subordination and exclusion of indigenous women from many political, working, social, and cultural environments is a form of oppression which they continue to suffer."According to the study,
“this oppression is present at many levels and takes many forms, such as the right to study. However, women are beginning to question the ways and customs which keep them subordinate and reinforce patriarchal control, which has been constructed and accepted historically and socially.”Spanish Original