Case Study: Edith
This case study is a part of the Mexico Institute's project "Farm Labor and Mexico’s Export Produce Industry."
Edith is 37 years old and lives in the Nuevo Poblado part of Tuxpan. She is the third of six children of a two-parent, male-headed household. Her parents were farmers: they had land on which they planted corn, peanuts, beans, jamaica, and squash. The whole family helped with the agricultural tasks. At the age of 12, Edith had her first paying job: seasonal work harvesting tomatoes and jícama. Since then, her income has become a fundamental part of the household economy. Her earnings went to planting corn and buying shoes and clothes for her siblings. Edith finished junior high school in Tuxpan; she walked an hour every day to school. Although she wanted to continue her studies, the lack of resources and the fact that she was female precluded that goal. She continued doing seasonal work, and, at the age of 18, she entered the CONAFE program, where she received 1,900 pesos a month to teach classes. She says it was not much money, but it was a secure income. Later, she went to work in a plywood factory, where she was paid 700 pesos a week. Every day, on her way from Nuevo Poblado to the factory, she saw the recently constructed berry greenhouses, which belonged to a large export firm. One Easter vacation she decided to try her luck there. That first week she earned 1800 pesos, more than twice what she was paid at the factory. This was the main reason she stayed to work in the greenhouses.
She has now been working at the same job for ten years. Besides the wages, which are 1,200 pesos a week working by the day and 2,000-4,000 pesos a week working for the harvest, Edith has stayed there in order to receive social security for her family. After one year at the job, Edith began her reproductive trajectory. When her partner refused to take responsibility for the child, Edith assumed the entire cost and burden of caring for him. Edith’s work schedule, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., leaves her little time for household tasks or childcare, so her mother has taken over raising him. In return, Edith gives her mother food and money. Six years ago, Edith met her current partner. He works in construction as a temporary laborer because he has a bad knee. When they got together, he asked her to stop working. However, Edith’s wages are the only secure income, and her job is the source of social security for her partner, her child, and her mother. Edith’s work in the greenhouses has provided her with a stable income, better than in other jobs, as well as health care and autonomy at home.
About the Author
The Mexico Institute seeks to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship. A binational Advisory Board, chaired by Luis Téllez and Earl Anthony Wayne, oversees the work of the Mexico Institute. Read more