The Modern Maya

The Changing Role of a Maya Woman

Chichimila, 1976


In Maya society certain women have become spiritual and secular leaders. But in general, rigid roles for both sexes exist. Women are excluded from the religious and political hierarchy, even if they wield considerable influence behind the scenes. In any event, in a society where work revolves around the home and family plot, any debate over roles has remained largely subservient to eking out a living. Education and today's economy are changing this. Educated women have the ability to work outside of the home, and the economy is forcing both parents of many families to bring home a pay check in order to survive. Not every husband's ego survives, though, when his wife makes more than he does. Not long ago a family would have many children -- they were needed to help with the many labor intensive chores around the house and in the field. Now some women are having fewer children and others are talking about it. It is hard, however, to change an age-old perception that having children defines a woman's role in her family and society -- and the prohibition on birth control by the Roman Catholic church adds to the confusion.


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