** Mexican history mexico historia mexicano Revolution women and children niños

Mexican Revolution: Impact on Women and Children

Mexican women soldiers
Figure 1.-Here we seem to have Soldaderas de la revolucion. As best we can tell the inscription reads 'mujera listas para recivir [meaning recibir] a rabago'. That means woman [meaning women] ready to recieve a rabago. WeI have no idea what a rabago is.

The Mexican Revolution was different than the standard Latin American Revolution that came before in the 19th century. Latin America achieved its independence from Spain and Portugal (except for Cuba and Puerto Rico) in the early-19th century. Independence was followed by a competition for power between liberal and conservative elements. Republics emerged, but it was not a competion limited to the ballot box. The pattern varied from country to country, but commonly military leaders seized power fron civilian governments, in many cases for extended period. Porfirio Díaz was one of many such leaders. Rarely did these changes of power involve more them samll grups, mostly located in the capital city. Largely untouched was the country's social structure. Slavery was abolished, but except in Brazil where abolition was and the Caribbean had not been important. The Spanih and Portuguese social structure wad largely retained. The economies were largely agricultural with mining of some importance. Much of he land was owned by magnates who operated large haciendas (this term varies from country to country) with a large landless peassant (campesino) work force. in the Andes and northern Central Aerica (including Mexico) the campesinos were mostly of American Indian ancestry. Often they were not involved in the market economy and did not speak the national language (Spanish). They were essentially not involved in the national economy. They commonly received no or very little monetary compensation. They were not slaves, but they had tights and existed in a consition of near slavery. The Mexican Revolution was different than most previous revolution becuause of the breath and dimesions of the struggle and the impact on the country's social structure. The best description of the situation is an Ecuadorian novel--Huasipungo. [Icaza] The Mexican Revolution was Latin America's first important social revolution. Large armies meant thar campesinos had to be recruited and two of the peasant leaders (Villa and Zapata) were concerned about social issues. Inevitavly both women and children were involved because so many of their husbands and parents were involved and in mamy cases killed.


Porfirio Díaz established an oppressive regime known as Porfiriato. Elections were rigged and freedom of expression was linited. The Revolution began among the educated urban elite who chafed under the restrictions of the Porfiriato. their opinions, their democratic right to choose public officials and there were many cases of injustices that were happening in the country. Francisco Madero was no revolutionary, he simply believed in honest elections and moderate reforms. But his reformist ideas and brutal murder galvanized the immagination. And the forces unleashed by Revolution would change Mexico forever. The large numbers of campsinos recruited for huge armies maeant that their issues had to be addressed. Mexico was a strongly patriarchal society. Women did not have have high status. Deciscions were made by and for men. Mexican law essentially gave men control over women and the family. Women lived at home and wee mostly involved in family life: marriage, homekeeping, child raising, and the Catholic Church. Mexico's Civil Code enacted during the Porfiriato (1884), severly restricted women's rights both at home and the work place. The massive dissruptions of the Revolution (1910-20) meant that many women were forced to take control of their own lives. Women became an important element in the Revolution. In many cases this was because they lost husbands and fathers who had provided for them. In other cases they followed their husbands into battle. The Revolution was mostly fought by men. There were, however, women involved in the fighting and more importantly every other aspect of the many campaigns, cooking, mending clothes, nursing, as well as setting up amd moving camps. And the women that stayed at home often had to take in new roles and responsibilities to keep the family fed and housed. In many cases women for the first time were living freely and independently. The Revolution was primarily concerned with social issues like land reform. But te expeiences of women would lead to the beginning of a moverment for women's rights after the Revolution. Perhaps the most famous soldaderas de la Revolución was Clara de la Rocha who adopted the destinctive Hopi hair style for young maidens made famous by Pricess Leia in 'Starwars'.


Mexico was essentially at war with itself for a decade. The fighting reached every corner of the country and in some cases with terrible ferocity. Children as the weakest element of the population were among those most severely affected. They were affected in a number of ways. Many children were orphaned. Often it was only their father who was killed, but in Mexican society it was the father who was the principal bread winner which left huge numbers of families destitute. And this was at a time when the fighting was destroying the economy. Other children were affected or even killed in the fighting. This was only in part when fighting flared in their town or village. One aspect of the Revolution that has not been given adequate coverage is the role that women played in the Revolution as well as the long term impact of this on Mexican society. After the Revolution we see women emerging as journalist, union organizers, and a whole range of roles that they had not previously entered. Many women went to war with their men. They played a range of roles from cooking to laundry to actually engaging in combat. It was not uncommon for these women to take their children with them. In some cases the children might be left with grandmothers or other family, but in many instances the children came along. The older children might actually join the army. Other children were involved in the forced levies that were conducted by the various warring forces. It was quite common to include teenagers in these levies and in some cases children not yet in their teen years. It should not be thought that the children were passive victims. Many children like their parents were caught up in the popular passions of the day. We suspect this was especially the case of peasant children. Middle-class and upper-class children were probably kept out of the fighting by their parents. Here the sane dynamic was involved as in the American Civil War.


Icaza, Jorge. Huasipungo


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Created: 4:11 AM 5/22/2019
Last updated: 9:13 PM 3/31/2021