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Latin American Women In The Workforce and Family Living The European conquest of the New World altered the lives of indigenous women European women did not arrive to the New World only for years after the initial invasions Indian women were continuously exploited in the form of labor catering and sexual gratification Elite Indian women were able to gain a somewhat privileged position through their liaisons with the European men As more and more European women began to arrive in the New World Indian women were confined to the bottom of the ethnic and class hierarchy A particular concern of the colonists was that their purity of blood be preserved meaning that no black or Indian people could enter into the family lineage This in return caused careful controlling of womens behavior Under the regulation of patria potestad women remained under the legal authority of their fathers until marriage when authority was transferred to their husbands During the nineteenth century womens public life was limited Women also still remained legally minors There were some advances in education which helped some women to enter into professions There were also alterations of civic codes which ultimately abolished the patria potestad laws in many countries Latin American women entered the 20th century with better education and legal status but with still restricted roles Women initiated campaigns for equal political and civil rights But despite some gains they continued to be discriminated shaped by machismo and poor women faced the double duty of family and employment According to historical records almost 30 percent of households in the city of Sao Paulo in 1765 were headed by women that were single married whose husbands were absent or widows By 1802 this rose to 44 percent falling to 39 percent by 1836 This was due to the need of male labor migration in an economy based primarily on plantation agriculture Taking the average age of female heads
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