Situation of women in Honduras

Education

Due to the traditionally patriarchal nature of Honduras, girls were often educationally disadvantaged. The main reason that girls are pulled out of school in the first place is usually to help in the family, leading to differences in educational attainment. Nevertheless, the situation is changing, as the school life expectancy is today estimated to be higher for females (12 years) than males (11 years) -as of 2014. Honduras does have a fairly high literacy rate, which is similar for both sexes: 88.9% for females and 88.4% for males – as of 2015 (Source: The World Factbook – CIA)

School girls on the island of Roatán, off the north coast of Honduras, return from walk on the beach from school. Photo Credits: https://kwekudee-tripdownmemorylane.blogspot.com

 Women in Labour force and Gender Wage Gap

Men are twice as likely to be employed in Honduras as are women, and there are very strong stereotypes of what men’s and women’s jobs should be. The idea of male and female jobs also carries over into the field of unpaid labor, as women perform a great deal more unpaid labor than men. Women, in addition to having to work twice as hard in order to get a traditionally male-held job, are then paid less than their male counterparts for doing exactly the same job. Overall the average woman makes considerably less than her male counterpart and is usually forced into industries with little to no benefits and almost no job security.

Women in Honduras have a very small share of the overall wealth, and even the parts that they have seem to reinforce their roles as homemakers and caretakers. Home ownership: Women – 38% and Men- 59% Honduras has extremely unequal income distribution, and high underemployment. Over half of the country lives on less than two dollars a day, and the majority are women. Poverty mainly is a cycle perpetuated by lack of opportunity and education.

Work and Life Balance

Honduras, especially in the rural areas, generally has a patriarchy system, and gender roles many times put women in a subordinate position. Such gender roles dictate that men dominate the public sphere, while women are supposed to conform and adhere to the realm of the domestic sphere. This means that women are doing all the housework and raising the children, therefore their work and personal life are intertwined.

In the cities it is also quite common to find single mothers who are parenting and working at the same time. In more than 670,000 homes, single mothers are responsible of generating an income for their families, which represent 30% of all households in Honduras.

Violence against Women

Here are some terms used in Honduran society:

  • Machismo: attitudes of men being strong and unemotional, while women are vulnerable and needy.
  • Marianismo: a pattern of behaviour that is regarded as conforming to a traditional or archetypal female role; female submissiveness.
  • Femicides: the killing of a woman or girl, in particular by a man and on account of her gender. Every 18 hours, a woman is killed in Honduras.

Domestic Violence happens every year: 20,000+ reports of domestic violence.
Sexual Abuses: every year, 30,000+ cases of rapes are reported in Honduras.
Sexual Harassment: especially in the streets: men making whistles, saying expressions and others to women walking by, which are usually colloquial expressions apparently attempting to flatter feminine beauty but with the seldom purpose of proving manhood to other men. This usually happens only when there is a group of men, not individually.
Symbolic power: includes actions that have discriminatory or injurious meaning or implications, such as gender dominance.

All of this is gradually changing in Honduras, and younger generations are changing mentalities. Many men are realising there needs to be gender equality in a thriving nation. This is a very slow process, maybe happening a bit faster in cities than rural areas but progressing overall.

Women in High-Power Positions

Despite the fact that women today have equal political rights, they remain under-represented in politics. Nevertheless, the numbers have increased in recent years, and as of 2013, women made 25.80% of the Congress.

Rihanna Ferrera – first transgender woman to run for election as congresswoman. The government decided to use her name she was assigned when she was born physically a male, Pedro Ernesto Ferrera Sánchez.

Sexual Reproduction Rights

Honduras has this very conservative culture, very rooted to religious influences and because of the fact that the government is not completely secular. Unfortunately, Honduran public education system does not have an appropriate sexual education due to religious concepts of sexuality, resulting in many social problems (i.e., teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, STIs transmissions).
Abortion: has been illegal in Honduras since it was banned in 1997.
Plan B (morning after pill): since 2009, it is forbidden and legally punished in any context (even in case of a rape).

Political Activism by Women

On 2nd March 2016, the internationally-renowned indigenous environmental activist Berta Cáceres was shot dead in her home, targeted by those opposed to her decades-long struggle against corporate projects on indigenous land in western Honduras.

POLÉTIKA-HONDURAS is new Oxfam-funded initiative that aims to put women on politicians’ agendas. Polétika – a Spanish portmanteau combining politics and ethics – aims to widen the conversation and expose candidates when they fail to rise to the occasion. Polétika-H and more than 70 women’s organisations came together to launch on September 2017 a feminist political agenda to serve as a measuring stick to scrutinise the presidential candidates’ focus on the problems women face ahead of the 26th November 2017 elections.