The Costa Rican Womens Movement

The Costa Rican Womens Movement: A Reader

Ilse Abshagen Leitinger Editor and Translator
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 392
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qh7kj
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    The Costa Rican Womens Movement
    Book Description:

    This reader reflects the genesis, scope, and direction of women's activism in a single Latin American country. It collects the voices of forty-one diverse women who live in Costa Rica, some radical, others strongly conservative, and most ranging inbetween, as they write about their lives, their problems, their aspirations.

    Unlike the comparative studies of women's issues that look at several different countries, the reader provides an insider's view of one small, but quintessentially Latin American, society. These women write of their own experience in organizing and working for change within the Costa Rican community. Some represent groups fitting into traditional "women's movement" that wants to improve certain aspects of women's and families' daily lives. Still others, the "feminists," argue forcefully that true improvement requires a profound change of power relations in society, of women's access to power and decision making.

    The articles are organized into thematic groups that range from the definitions of Feminism in Costa Rica to women in Costa Rican history, women's legal equality, discrimination against women, and the status of Women's Studies. The brief biographies that identify each author underscore the leadership of Costa Rican women in Latin American Feminism. The founders and editors ofMujer, one of the most influential Feminist journals in Latin America, are among the authors represented in the reader.

    The audience for this book will include specialists interested in Latin America, in women in Latin America, and in the international women's movement.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7162-7
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. [Map]
    (pp. x-x)
  5. INTRODUCTION. The Costa Rican Women’s Movement and Costa Rican Feminism in the Early 1990s: Multiple, Dynamic, Action-Oriented
    (pp. xi-xxii)
    Ilse Abshagen Leitinger

    This collection of readings represents a conscious decision to offer a broad vision of the complex dimensions of the women’s movement and feminism in Costa Rica during the early 1990s. The termwomen’s movementis not identical withfeminismin Costa Rica. Most contributors toThe Costa Rican Women’s Movement: A Readerwould agree that, despite much overlap between the two movements, feminism is more far-reaching in advocating social change by empowering women than is the women’s movement, which may strive for more limited economic, social, or political improvements.

    Unlike many other readers on Latin American women which are written...

  6. I The Varying Faces of the Costa Rican Women’s Movement and Costa Rican Feminism
    • [I Introduction]
      (pp. 1-4)

      Section I explores the complexity of existing interpretations of the women’s movement and feminism in Costa Rica. Its five selections represent a wide spectrum of women’s concerns. A historical sketch portrays unusual women of the past, mid-nineteenth-century individualists of extreme individual efficacy, and early-twentieth-century civic women intent on fighting for political rights. The second selection introduces a highly intellectual enterprise of a feminist publication; the third describes a feminist organization created in part by leaders who were educated abroad and who worked with women at the grassroots level, an organization that found its courage with the political left but has...

    • 1 Different Times, Women, Visions: The Deep Roots of Costa Rican Feminism
      (pp. 5-12)
      Yadira Calvo Fajardo

      The roots of feminism in Costa Rica can be traced back to women who claimed the right to be individuals even though their behavior failed to conform to the standards that custom considered suitable for a woman of their era. The next stage of feminism included women who defended democratic rights, although these rights applied only to men and not to the women themselves. This period was followed by one in which women consciously demanded their own rights as citizens. Today, the feminist movement encompasses women who with increasing awareness insist on freedom from domination and freedom to participate in...

    • 2 The Group Ventana: An Assessment
      (pp. 13-18)
      Rosalía Camacho, Alda Facio Montejo and Ligia Martín

      The contributions of the group Ventana (Window) will probably not be documented in patriarchal history, just as the contributions of many of our predecessors in the struggle to achieve a society that will offer justice for women have not been acknowledged. If our accumulated experience is to benefit younger groups in Costa Rica today, we must ensure that the significant theoretical and practical contributions Ventana has made toward strengthening the Costa Rican feminist movement are recorded. Although Ventana does not presently carry out any formal projects, Ventana played an important role in Costa Rican Feminism.

      Ventana was one of the...

    • 3 Improving the Quality of Women’s Daily Lives: Costa Rica’s Centro Feminista de Información y Acción
      (pp. 19-23)
      Ana Carcedo, Montserrat Sagot and Marta Trejos

      The Centro Feminista de Información y Acción (CEFEMINA) (Feminist Center for Information and Action) grew out of the Movimiento para la Liberación de la Mujer (MLM) (Women’s Liberation Movement). In 1974, a group of women formed MLM to begin discussions, research, and campaigns from a feminist perspective in Costa Rica. These women had just returned from studying in Europe, where they had been influenced by the rise of the feminist movement in developed countries. Following North American and European examples, MLM organized a series of activities that promoted women’s reproductive rights: contraception, abortion, and the banning of forced sterilization.

      In...

    • 4 The Alianza de Mujeres Costarricenses, a Popular Movement: An Impassioned Plea for Action-Oriented Feminism
      (pp. 24-28)
      Ana Hernández

      Those of us who work daily in the defense of women’s rights, social justice, and peace must preserve the history of the women’s movement in Costa Rica so that it will not be excluded from a general history of our nation. We must keep alive the experience of thousands of women who struggled to create a better life. Some say the Alianza is one of the oldest women’s organizations in Central America. It is, much to our own surprise! This longevity of the Alianza reflects the persistence of simple women who are working for a popular women’s organization.

      The word...

    • 5 Women’s Liberation from Servitude and Overprotection
      (pp. 29-34)
      Carmen Naranjo Coto

      Critics of feminism say it has concentrated on actions for women who are “with it” or “up to date”—those who all along have been conscious of the problems women face. They claim feminism had to become a kind of escape valve, a way of appeasing the different social strata and muffling their impatience over injustices and discrimination, even though the relief women felt by venting their frustrations offered neither a solution nor an inspiration to seek full incorporation into society.

      To my way of thinking, the core problem of women lies in the human servitude to which they have...

  7. II Making Women Visible in Costa Rican History
    • [II Introduction]
      (pp. 35-38)

      In Costa Rica, women’s history is beginning to attract not only professional historians but also feminists from other disciplines who are intent upon documenting women’s contributions to Costa Rican life throughout history, particularly over the last five hundred years. Scholars working in the field are using two approaches: They reassess existing documentation, considering it from a gender perspective, and they explore social history as it relates to women, i.e., by focusing attention on individual women, whether by gathering oral recollections or by analyzing a variety of hitherto unknown or untouched documents. This section offers examples of both of these approaches,...

    • 6 Women in Colonial Costa Rica: A Significant Presence
      (pp. 39-51)
      Cora Ferro Calabrese and Ana María Quirós Rojas

      It is difficult for women to survive in any society in which strong patriarchal systems of different cultural origins come together and reinforce each other. In colonial Costa Rica, it was particularly difficult because three patriarchal traditions—those of the Spanish colonial system, the Roman Catholic Church, and indigenous tribal societies—converged during colonization. More than a generation after major centers in Mexico, Guatemala, and South America had been settled, colonists entered Costa Rica from the Pacific coast, where they established only weak institutions and existed in complete isolation under conditions of extreme poverty (see, e.g., MacLeod, 1980; Monge Alfaro,...

    • 7 Contradictory Aspects of Costa Rican Women’s History During the Nineteenth Century
      (pp. 52-60)
      Clotilde Obregón Quesada

      In Costa Rica, as in many parts of the world, the role women played and the varied contributions they made to the nation’s development during the nineteenth century have gone relatively unnoticed. However, the Costa Rican Archivo Nacional in San José contains extensive documentation that opens a window allowing a look at women’s activities.

      After briefly introducing the reader to nineteenth-century Costa Rica, I will show that although women’s legal status was declining, their educational and economic activities were not only considerable but were even improving toward the end of the nineteenth century. Of course, the archives reflect a limited...

    • 8 The Suffragist Movement in Costa Rica, 1889–1949: Centennial of Democracy?
      (pp. 61-83)
      Sara Sharratt

      On November 7, 1989, Costa Rica celebrated the Centennial of Democracy, commemorating an 1889 uprising of citizens against the threat of fraudulent elections. José Joaquín Trejos, president of Costa Rica (1966–70), called the 1889 uprising a demonstration of “citizens, mostly campesinos, who gathered … carrying sticks and machetes, firm in their insistence that the will of the people be respected” (Trejos, 1989: 15a). The 1889 demonstration produced results: The outgoing president promised free elections, and the clearly favored candidate easily won the election.

      Trejos supported this 1989 commemoration but strongly protested the notion that it signaled thebirthof...

    • 9 Unusual Costa Rican Women: Three Who Were Proclaimed “Distinguished Citizens of the Nation”
      (pp. 84-88)
      Ana Isabel Gamboa Hernández and Sara Gurfinkiel Hermann

      The Benemeritazgo de la Patria (distinguished citizenship of the nation) is the highest honor the Costa Rican state can bestow on a citizen who has contributed in extraordinary ways to the progress and welfare of the country. The title is conferred by the Comisión de Honores (Honors Commission), which is composed of members of the Legislative Assembly. It is confirmed by the whole assembly.

      Since the award was established at the end of the nineteenth century, fifty-four citizens have been recipients, only three of them women (Fernández, 1987). This study describes the contributions these women made to the nation’s history,...

    • 10 Peasant Women’s Autobiographies: Women’s Double Contribution to the Rural Economy
      (pp. 89-98)
      Zaira Escamilla Gutiérrez and Lorena Vargas Mora

      This study is an analysis of five farm women’s autobiographies selected from the twenty-six included in the five-volumeAutobiografías campesinas(AC), published in 1979 by the Escuela de Planificación y Promoción Social (School of Planning and Social Development) of Costa Rica’s Universidad Nacional (UNA). To encourage the expression and collection of experiences of rural people, UNA had asked farmers to submit entries in a competition for the best campesino autobiographies. Many more entries arrived than could be selected for the final published selection.

      These five exceptional women were born between the end of the nineteenth century and the middle of...

  8. III The Quest for Women’s Equality
    • [III Introduction]
      (pp. 99-102)

      The law is an important component of Costa Rican life. Costa Ricans’ confidence in their nonmilitarized democracy is based on their expectation that the law should and will regulate the interaction of individuals and groups. You cannot buy or sell a car or a house without a lawyer guiding you through the myriad of formaiities connected with such a transaction.

      This does not mean, of course, that Costa Ricans always respect or obey their laws, particularly if the latter contradict age-old cultural traditions or patterns. In fact, knowing how far one can go in bending the law without breaking it...

    • 11 The Law and Women’s Lives: Contradictions and Struggles
      (pp. 103-110)
      Tatiana Soto Cabrera

      Throughout most of its history, Costa Rican society has denied women their basic rights. Although women have made some progress in the formal legal arena, such as achieving the right to vote in 1949 (see Sharratt, chap. 8 above) and the promulgation of the Family Code in 1974, these measures often were not consistent, frequently were not implemented, and certainly had little effect on women’s daily lives—particularly the lives of poor women. During the 1980s, new incentives inspired women of all strata to renew their efforts to obtain their rights, often by initiating consciousness-raising and self-help activities.

      This analysis...

    • 12 Negotiating Women’s Legal Equality: Four Versions of a Law
      (pp. 111-118)
      Aixa Ansorena Montero

      In March 1988, the Proyecto de Ley sobre la Igualdad Real de la Mujer (Bill for Women’s True Equality) was introduced to the public; one month later, it was sent to the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica (CMF, 1988—89). Two years of intense public debate about women’s political and social rights followed before the bill, substantially changed, was passed as the Ley de Promoción de la Igualdad Social de la Mujer (Law for the Promotion of Women’s Social Equality) (La Gaceta, 1990; see Badilla, chap. 13 below).

      It may come as a surprise that Costa Ricans were discussing women’s...

    • 13 Leading Arguments Against Women’s Legal Equality: Highlights of a National Debate
      (pp. 119-126)
      Ana Elena Badilla Gómez

      The years 1988 and 1989 were an important period for feminism in Costa Rica. During this time we witnessed a national debate following First Lady Doña Margarita Penón Góngora’s presentation to the public, on March 8, 1988, of the Proyecto de Ley sobre la Igualdad Real de la Mujer (Bill for Women’s True Equality). The two years of debate that followed in the Legislative Assembly were comparable to the struggle before 1949, the year in which Costa Rican women finally obtained the vote (see Sharratt, chap. 8 above).

      The debate over the Proyecto de Ley sobre la Igualdad Real de...

    • 14 Redefining Political Equality: More Than Including Women
      (pp. 127-136)
      Alda Facio Montejo

      The legal concepts or philosophical principles that form the underpinning of laws may seem universal and eternal, but in fact they are constantly changing. As concepts and principles are reinterpreted in the light of historic realities, they evolve, keeping pace with humans’ search for a more perfect justice. A case in point is the principle oflegal equality, as expressed in Chapter 1 of the first version of the Proyecto de Ley sobre la Igualdad Real de la Mujer (Bill for Women’s True Equality) (see Ansorena, chap. 12 above), which was passed in revised form by the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly...

  9. IV Women Suffering Discrimination
    • [IV Introduction]
      (pp. 137-140)

      Part III presented the legal, political, and philosophical arguments for equality. We turn now to a series of readings that offer an insight into ordinary everyday instances of inequality and varied experiences of discrimination in Costa Rican society. By showing how women cope, the selections prove the strength of the individual-efficacy root of feminism. The presentations are ordered according to types of discrimination: by race or class, sexual preference, physical disability, and domestic violence, including incest. This approximates the sequence in which different types of discrimination have risen successively into public consciousness, first through self-help efforts at the grassroots level,...

    • 15 Women Heads of Household in Costa Rica’s Limón Province: The Effects of Class Modified by Race and Gender
      (pp. 141-146)
      Eugenia López-Casas

      Costa Rica is famous for variations in relief, climate, flora, and fauna, and it shows a physical diversity that belies its size. This diversity translates into a variety of socioeconomic conditions, despite the unifying experience of Spanish colonization, nineteenth-century independence, and twentieth-century development of dependent capitalism.

      At present, Costa Rica is experiencing an economic crisis resulting from several factors; these include, but are not limited to, the external debt, the decline of coffee prices (coffee being one of Costa Rica’s two principal export crops, the other being bananas, though both have recently ceded first place in export earnings to tourism),...

    • 16 The Lesbian Feminist Group Las Entendidas
      (pp. 147-152)
      Paquita Cruz

      Lesbian feminists founded Las Entendidas (Those in the Know) in early 1987 as a base from which we could struggle against our particular oppression. Although some of us had participated in other feminist organizations, we had never been able to entirely identify with them because they never discussed topics that concern us, such as the problems of lesbian mothers; homophobic attitudes, both among heterosexual feminists and ourselves; job discrimination; or the images patriarchal society projects of lesbians. Even when we participated in support groups alongside heterosexual feminists, our sexuality and our daily life with our partners were always pushed aside....

    • 17 Women with Disabilities: Between Sexism and Handicappism
      (pp. 153-159)
      Paula Antezana Rimassa

      We live in a society with room for only one kind of human being. All aspects of life are shaped to satisfy the needs of people who are male, forty-five years of age or younger, white, and middle class; who have no apparent physical limitations; and who are characterized by the aggressiveness and motivation required to maintain the status quo. People outside of these parameters face rejection, discrimination, repulsion, pity, and aggression. Their very existence is an offense, a threat against society. Individuals with disabilities are an example of such outsiders.

      In antiquity, children born with physical or mental limitations...

    • 18 Never to Cry Alone Again: Women and Violence in Costa Rica
      (pp. 160-169)
      Ana Carcedo

      This does not pretend to be a history, even lessthehistory, of the movement against aggression toward women in Costa Rica. It simply revives memories of a process I lived, alone and together with other women and men, as a member of various organizations concerned about the violence against women.

      In the early 1980s graffiti crying “Death to the Rapists” appeared on walls in San José. They looked alike, which seemed to indicate the campaign of an organized group, though one indignant individual could have been behind it. This was probably the first time anybody publicly registered the need...

    • 19 Father-Daughter Incest: Case Studies in Costa Rica
      (pp. 170-180)
      Gioconda Batres Méndez

      This study is based on the author’s research with victims of incest and their families since 1988 and on her work as therapist with victims of extrafamilial sexual abuse and intrafamilial incest, with adult male victims of brother-brother incest, and with other sexual offenders who reported offenses during therapy. The author treated at different times the abusing fathers, the mothers of the victims, and the adolescent victims of father-daughter incest.

      The phenomenon of incest in Costa Rica has been reported over a long period. Only recently, however, has the accumulated evidence permitted a systematic assessment of the complex dynamics of...

  10. V Women’s Organizations and Organizations Working with Women
    • [V Introduction]
      (pp. 181-184)

      As Costa Rican women have expanded their participation in society and moved beyond traditional individual struggles for family survival, they have taken a greater role in public leadership in work, community, and political settings, from women’s movement types of activities to feminist concerns. At the same time, governmental and nongovernmental organizations—domestic and foreign—are beginning to pay greater attention to women’s needs and contributions.

      Adapting skills that have served them well in the microenvironment of the family or small enterprise, women are creating large institutions with elaborate leadership hierarchies, handling complex administrative and financial processes, participating in extended negotiations,...

    • 20 Peace Corps Volunteers See Working-Class Women’s Realities
      (pp. 185-191)
      Jessica Brown, Cynthia K. Green, Linda Pearl and Vilma Pérez

      “Ooh! I wonder if Gonzalo left any money in his pants;” says María as she checks her brother’s trousers before washing them. “Hmph,” she snorts, “only 40 colones [50 cents U.S. at the time of the story]. Well, whatever he leaves in his pockets is mine to keep.”

      I’m a bit stunned at this, feeling it’s dishonest. “Do you really keep the money?” I ask. “How much do you find?”

      “Oh, once I found 200 colones, and another time, Papi left 400 colones in his pocket. ‘¡Salado![Your tough luck!],’ I say. After I find the money, I tell the...

    • 21 Women as Leaders in the Costa Rican Cooperative Movement
      (pp. 192-197)
      Mireya Jiménez Guerra

      The goal of the cooperative movement in Costa Rica is to improve the socioeconomic situation of its members. In 1993, the movement consisted of four hundred cooperatives, involved in a great variety of productive enterprises and comprising approximately 300,000 members. They represented nearly 10 percent of the total population of the country and 30 percent of the economically active population.

      To understand women’s situation in the Costa Rican cooperative movement, we must know something about the socioeconomic and political situation of the country. In Costa Rica approximately 51 percent of all households are headed by women, yet women workers earn...

    • 22 The Struggle for Housing in Costa Rica: The Transformation of Women into Political Actors
      (pp. 198-209)
      Montserrat Sagot

      This study examines the political participation of women in the struggle for housing in Costa Rica from the late 1970s to the 1980s, focusing on the women members of the Comité Patriótico Nacional (COPAN) (National Patriotic Committee), the most effective organization in the housing movement. The study attempts to show the consequences of the housing struggle on (1) government social housing policy, (2) the design and organization of new communities, and (3) the personal and family lives of participating women.

      The study divides into four sections. Section I reviews factors that brought new social movements to Latin America and emphasizes...

    • 23 Long-Term Survival of a Costa Rican Women’s Crafts Cooperative: Approaches to Problems of Rapid Growth at CASEM in the Santa Elena-Monteverde Region
      (pp. 210-233)
      Ilse Abshagen Leitinger

      The history of the Comisión (originally Comité) de Artesanos de Santa Elena-Monteverde (CASEM) (Artisans’ Commission of Santa Elena-Monteverde) represents a ten-year process in which women in a remote rural setting of Costa Rica, struggling to improve their lives, joined together in a crafts cooperative and transformed it into a flourishing enterprise. They went through good and bad periods and had some lucky breaks, but—more important—they were remarkably persistent.

      In what follows, I describe the historical and socioeconomic setting within which CASEM developed, and I record the interplay of relevant factors, focusing on six major themes:

      1. The cooperative’s beginning...

    • 24 Reconceptualizing the Theory of Women in Organizations: Contributions of Feminist Analysis
      (pp. 234-244)
      Laura Guzmán Stein

      This study probes certain assumptions that have generated a large volume of research on women’s organizations and efforts to organize women in Latin America. The analysis of women’s organizational capacity has in the past been based on theoretical and methodological schemes that fail to capture the feminine experience. Studies have taken the male as model and have denied the validity of interpretations women themselves provide. Yet women’s experience is qualitatively different from that of men. Thus, I propose the introduction of feminist analysis into the theory of organizations.

      The discussion on this topic has barely begun. We women are just...

  11. VI The Women’s Movement and Feminism in the Arts
    • [VI Introduction]
      (pp. 245-247)

      Costa Rican women have contributed to the arts in many ways. They serve not only as models, providing themes for artistic expression, but also as creative artists in the visual arts of painting and sculpture, in music, literature, theater, dance, and film making. The arts are a medium for portraying women’s traditional roles as mothers, housekeepers, caretakers, lovers, or idols of beauty, but they also permit artists to raise questions about these stereotypical roles and to offer a critical assessment of women’s treatment by society.

      The three selections in this section represent examples of this questioning of women’s roles by...

    • 25 Feminist Visions: Four Women Artists in Costa Rica
      (pp. 248-261)
      Sally R. Felton

      A considerable number of women are currently recognized as fine artists in Costa Rica. Their works demonstrate technical expertise as well as thematic exploration, abstract or figurative, and gain acceptance for their artistic merits, without bias toward the creator’s gender. In this essay, after a short historical overview of women as artists and their themes in Costa Rica, I sketch the contribution four women artists are making to feminist visions in contemporary Costa Rican art.

      Throughout colonial history and in the nineteenth century, Costa Rican art closely followed European trends. Local artists copied European art styles—for instance, effusive, highly...

    • 26 Women and Love: Myths and Stereotypes in Popular Songs Broadcast in Costa Rica
      (pp. 262-268)
      Sandra Castro Paniagua and Luisa Gonçalves

      This study, a feminist content analysis of six popular songs, has two objectives. The first is to share with other women our analysis of an element of daily life, popular music, which quite innocuously contributes to the perpetuation of the social inequality of women and men. The second is to demonstrate that these songs, which members of the lower and middle working classes listen to and sing, perpetuate myths about women as inferior beings of little value, thereby strengthening the stereotypical domination-submission pattern of behavior through which women and men relate.

      Communication media are important agents in the transmission of...

    • 27 Yadira Calvo: Costa Rican Feminist Writer par Excellence
      (pp. 269-276)
      Sonia de la Cruz Malavassi

      Yadira Calvo’s writings are an integral part of Costa Rican feminism. The following reviews comment on the progression of ideas in Yadira Calvo’s work to show that, while inspired by Western tradition and thought, this feminism is beginning to focus on its own essence and history.

      In her earliest book,La mujer,victima y cómplice(Women: Victims and Accomplices), Yadira Calvo presents a well-reasoned argument about the rise of patriarchy, showing how it permeated social institutions to form a culture of masculine omnipotence and feminine subjugation. She illustrates how patriarchy perpetuated this unjust system with the help of mythologies, religions,...

  12. VII The Constantly Evolving Status of Women’s Studies
    • [VII Introduction]
      (pp. 277-281)

      This section focuses on the development of women’s studies programs in Costa Rica and then presents a few research analyses from this complex field. The process of legitimizing and institutionalizing women’s studies in Costa Rica’s academic world has been slow and sometimes difficult. After an informal beginning, the process consolidated itself over time until, in the early 1990s, after arduous battles with the academic bureaucracy, women’s studies acquired legitimacy and finally became formally institutionalized.

      If one considers legitimate women’s studies to be only those academic programs that give credit and confer degrees, then Costa Rica reached that stage in the...

    • 28 From CIEM to IEM: The Consolidation of Women’s Studies at the Universidad Nacional
      (pp. 282-286)
      Cora Ferro Calabrese

      In 1976, members of the faculty of the Humanities Division of the Universidad Nacional began an advisory service for women’s organizations and groups of women about to form organizations. Through this service we learned about women’s needs and aspirations in their daily lives. In 1986 we organized UNA’s first course about women’s problems for professionals who were working with women’s programs. The response was excellent. We became known and developed expertise. When we created the Centro Interdisciplinario de Estudios de la Mujer (CIEM) in 1987, we already had gained a national reputation. On June 21, 1991, CIEM celebrated the inauguration...

    • 29 Gender Studies at the Universidad de Costa Rica
      (pp. 287-292)
      Laura Guzmán Stein

      The Women’s Decade, declared by the United Nations in 1975, called attention of international organizations, national governments, and society in general to the problem of discrimination and oppression against women. In 1979, the U.N. General Assembly approved theConvention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which Costa Rica ratified on March 4, 1984.

      The Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR) participated in the process this convention initiated. Like its Latin American, North American, and European counterparts, UCR sponsored during the Women’s Decade a large number of courses, research projects, conferences, seminars, extension projects, theses, and lectures about...

    • 30 CSUCA’s Approach to Women’s Studies and Its Projected Program in Central America
      (pp. 293-297)
      Helga Jiménez

      From 1948 to 1992, the Consejo Superior Universitario Centroamericano (CSUCA) (Council of Central American Universities) worked to achieve regional integration for the activities of the state universities of the six member countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Believing that culture has a liberating effect, the organization coordinated studies of regional problems and furthered academic cooperation between member institutions in teaching, research, extension work, and publications. During its operation, CSUCA’s base was in San José, Costa Rica, but its programs took place in all member countries, which together served approximately 200,000 students as of the early 1990s....

    • 31 Timely, Relevant, Trustworthy, Precise, Ongoing: Toward a Gender-in-Development Information Network
      (pp. 298-303)
      Mafalda Sibille Martina

      The creation of policies to advance the well-being of Central American women is frequently hindered by a lack of appropriate information about them. In addition to often being inaccessible because of technological or resource limits, the available information is partial, inconsistent, nonspecific, and inappropriately conceptualized. It is not categorized by gender, urban versus rural residence, or age, and it persists in labeling women who carry the load of household labor and child rearing as “not working.” Moreover, the available information frequently represents a duplication of effort. Appropriate information, however, constitutes a vital resource for planning and for policy making and...

    • 32 Women’s Presence in the University: The Case of the Universidad Nacional in Heredia
      (pp. 304-309)
      Matilde López Núñez

      This essay presents a brief analysis of women’s presence among the Universidad Nacional’s academic and administrative personnel, as well as among its students from 1982 to 1987. The Universidad Nacional (UNA) is one of four state universities, the other three being the Universidad de Costa Rica, the Universidad Estatal a Distancia (UNED) (State University for Extension Studies), and the Instituto Tecnológico (Institute of Technology). UNA was founded in 1973, as the successor to the Teachers’ College, and in recent years it has had approximately 7,000 to 9,000 students. This study focuses on the years 1982 and 1987 and examines trends...

    • 33 Problems of Joint Interdisciplinary Research in Women’s Studies: An Effort to Integrate Disciplines for More Fruitful Analysis
      (pp. 310-315)
      Margarita Brenes Fonseca, May Brenes Marín and Sandra Castro Paniagua

      One of the goals of current scientific work is producing scientific knowledge by integrating the approaches of various disciplines. As scholars and feminists, we carried out a joint interdisciplinary research project on depression among Costa Rican women. This report identifies and summarizes some of the most important difficulties we faced in employing an interdisciplinary methodology for a scientific investigation, difficulties we encountered despite the feminist values we three investigators shared. We hope that by sharing our experiences we can facilitate the work of other women who might select a similar methodology. We believe the goals of this methodology are attainable...

    • 34 The Predictability of Cesarean-Section Births: A Case Study of Students in Costa Rican Childbirth Classes
      (pp. 316-332)
      Jennifer Kozlow-Rodríguez

      Something is causing an ever-accelerating increase of cesarean births in Costa Rica and, thus, an abuse of normal obstetrical ethics because any cesarean section that can be predicted for nonmedical reasons is theoretically unethical. This analysis is an attempt to begin a process of predicting the likelihood that a particular pregnancy will result in a cesarean-section birth because of factors other than medical ones. If such predictions can be made, it will be possible to recognize women with a strong preference for a medicated birth. Such an attitude might ultimately put some of these women at risk for a cesarean...

  13. Conclusion for an Action-Oriented Research Agenda
    (pp. 333-338)
    Ilse Abshagen Leitinger

    The conclusion to this reader highlights the contrasts and contradictions in current Costa Rican society, the continuing diversity of the women’s movement and feminism, and the contribution to overall Costa Rican development that this diversity will enable women to make. It also offers suggestions for future research in the field.

    The insiders’ contributions in this collection allow the reader to explore the distinct character of Costa Rican women’s experiences. They confirm that while in some ways these experiences are similar to those of women elsewhere on the continent, in others they differ significantly from what is happening in the women’s...

  14. Glossary
    (pp. 341-356)
  15. Index
    (pp. 357-366)