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New Courier. 2005 May; 47-49.María Pérez Pérez, from the district of Zinacantán, never thought she would be able to learn to hold a pencil at 48, or pick up an exercise book and scan the lines to make sense of its content. "I didn't go to school when I was a girl because I had to look after the animals, and help my parents, who were very poor. But now I regret never having made the effort to learn," says María, who like the vast majority of indigenous women, only speaks her mother tongue. But she is one of the 345 women talking literacy classes, thanks to UNESCO's support of the Alternativa Solidaria Chiapas (Al Sol), a non-governmental organization that provides microcredits to poor women so they can raise their own and their families' living standards. One of the 25 groups of women enrolled in the literacy programme holds its classes in Zinacantán, a municipality located around 10 kilometers from the colonial city of San Cristóbal de las Casas and a stronghold of the Tzotzils, one of the main ethnic groups to have descended from the Mayans. Every fortnight, around a dozen women, all of them adults with children, meet for an hour's class given by their teacher, Rosalinda Bolom, who is herself Tzotzil and speaks in their language - without which her work would be impossible. (excerpt)
New York, New York, United Nations, 1989. , vii, 397 p. (ST/CSDHA/6)This is the 1st update of the World Survey on the Role of Women in Development published by WHO. 11 chapters consider such topics as the overall theme, debt and policy adjustment, food and agriculture, industrial development, service industries, informal sector, policy response, technology, women's participation in the economy and statistics. The thesis of the document is that while isolated improvements in women's condition can be found, the economic deterioration in most developing countries has struck women hardest, causing a "feminization of poverty." Yet because of their potential and their central role in food production, processing, textile manufacture, and services among others, short and long term policy adjustments and structural transformation will tap women's potential for full participation. Women;s issues in agriculture include their own nutritional status, credit, land use, appropriate technology, extension services, intrahousehold economics and forestry. For their part in industrial development, women need training and/or re-training, affirmative action, social support, and better working conditions to enable them to participate fully. In the service industries the 2-tier system of low and high-paid jobs must be dismantled to allow women upward mobility. Regardless of the type of work being discussed, agricultural, industrial, primary or service, formal or informal, family roles need to be equalized so that women do not continue to bear the triple burden of work, housework and reproduction.