In world regions where the economy basically depends upon agriculture, it is not unusual to see women sharing a wide range of duties. From household chores to working on the farm and selling in the market, women can be spotted as managing hard labor of all sorts.
Although the traditional Hispanic values that seem to structure the life of a typical Nicaraguan woman, determines her place in the home, the labor workforce of Nicaragua has been showing a steady increase in the number of women workers.
The number of female workers increased by 14 percent in 1950, by 29 percent in 1977 and by 45 percent in 1989. Women were predominating workforce by the 1980s in Nicaragua in the low wage sector like garment industry.
The agro-export sector of Nicaraguan economy needs migrant labor force every year. The time such migrant workers spend, away from their families, working on the farms of cotton and coffee are extended over months of period that often times result in abandonment of their families. This leads to more women workers who at the same time end up being single head of their households. Due to their economic strained conditions, women are usually more likely to be hired on farms as they are willing to accept even lower wages.
Peasant women have it even worse, as they work on family farms with no pay and perform household duties as regular lifestyle challenged with double load. They were the labor that went undetermined until 1980s brought a change and they began getting into parts of salaried harvest labor in cotton and coffee field.
Focusing women’s rights and state of affairs like health, education and discrimination in the workplace is a good starting point for communities to bring a change as working at this very basic level helps counteract cultural habits that are severely damaging the society.
SOPPEXCCA (Asociación de Desarrollo Integral Productivo Cocolense—Productive Development Association of Cocolá) is one of the coffee co-operatives that stand out for its work towards empowering the women farmers. 40 percent of its membership is contributed by women. This fair trade and organic coffee growing co-operative is located in the jungles of Jinotega, Nicaragua, from where 65 percent of country’s coffee comes from. General Manager Fatima Ismael believes “A woman’s independence can only be achieved through economic autonomy and awareness.”
SOPPEXCCA offers Las Hermanas coffee from which, gained premiums are invested back for the betterment of Nicaraguan women and their families, funding cervical cancer prevention programs and scholarships for member’s children along with many other social projects.
La Fundacion Entre Mujeres is another coffee cooperative and NGO. Working since 1995 La FEM has a group of collectively six smaller cooperatives that work together under La Fem throughout the Northern region of Nicaragua helping rural women by providing them with developmental resources to grow and sell coffee.