Female gauchos in Argentina

Most of the female gauchos in Argentina follow their Father’s footsteps to become a Gaucho, the hero wanders of the Pampas. The romanticized lawless cowboys. The free-living legends of the Argentina society. Once nomad cowboys of the vast fertile grasslands of the Pampas.

Female gauchos play an essential role within the gaucho society, being the bridge between history and the new generations. Women are in fact responsible to pass on the gaucho traditions to their children and to raise them according to their own culture, uses and customs.

 

Rural women role⁣

 

The social role of the female gauchos is therefore crucial, and not being limited to the family: most of the times includes working with the cattle to help their gauchos.

During the 19th century, the activities carried out by female gauchos were varied and normally they were in charge of milking cows, orchard work or caring for farm animals.

Those who were married divided activities with their husbands and they were in charge of sales in stores, while their husbands carried out work on farms or on their own plots.

They were also in charge of herding and taking care of the horses in the posts for travelers.

 

Female gauchos in Buenos Aires

 

Female gaucho in buenos aires estancia

A Female gaucho in buenos aires estancia

More than 120 years ago there were more than 40,000 women engaged in agriculture and other rural activities. It was very common for them to shearing, also making threads of wool, weaving and sewing. In order to contribute to the household economy, they help selling and buying animals, eggs, sweets and cakes.

Rural female gauchos were not accepted by the established society along the 19th century, because they did not meet the ideal of women, also because they were the companions of the gauchos, considered uneducated and barbarians.

Rural women performed domestic work but they were complemented with small production activities for family consumption.

 

Rural women in the Pampas

 

female gaucho in the pampas of Argentina

A female gaucho in the pampas of Argentina

Living in the countryside for women not only means dedicating themselves to housework or to the education and care of their children, but also to work in the fields: taking care of the orchard, feeding the animals, driving the tractor, checking the plantations after the frosts, light the firewood so that the hail in an instant does not spoil the sacrifice of months of hard work and long wait, fight against the desertification of the land, milk the cows, attend to their calving, watch the cattle or wait to collect the fruits of the earth.

It is about the daily life of female gauchos, who over the years were stereotyped or represented only as mothers or housewives, although they fulfill these roles, their work as farmers and ranchers who contribute to the economy either family or paid

If we remember several years ago, the woman took care of the house and the animals. Who took care of everything? Women! But not only take care of the children and make them dinner and stay knitting socks: but everything. The animals had to be cared for, the horses had to be caught, the children had to go out, send them to school.

All the field tasks were done by the woman, the more you go back in the years, the more she did. The woman was always linked to the horse and the countryside, from performing tasks such as caring for animals, riding a horse and riding a carriage.

There was always equality, it’s not that she was relegated to a specific space. The vision of the role of women in the countryside and their different participation in the different activities: The female gauchos in the countryside dressed the same as the man, she put on pants, a sash and they breaking and riding horses; there are many cases here that she has done it with her husband.

The role of women in the field: If it is in a dairy, the couple usually goes to milk the cow, today there are few who have remained because it is done mostly with machines. But normally they go together or with an assistant.

Later, in the field, the woman does the housework, if she has a garden, if she has pigs, if she has chickens, goats, sheep. Sheep shearing is generally done as a family, the woman does it with her children and if her husband is there, he does it.

A female gaucho from a rural family from whom she learned to harvest thanks to her father and to weave with sheep’s wool thanks to her mother.

With this knowledge she began her weaving venture that includes blankets, quilts, table runners, vests and ruanas using ancient techniques. She comments that she works with “the natural fibers of the mountain, now I add color to them. I teach my daughters, who also make fabrics and help me sell online”.

 

Female gauchos in Buenos Aires Tourism

 

female gaucho in the pampas tourism

A female gaucho involved in the tourism

On the other hand, rural women have also found a new role that they can play through tourism, in the rural sector it is a complementary source of income and together with traditional rural activities it contributes to female empowerment.

Tourism provides women with employment opportunities, financial autonomy and in turn gives them the opportunity to establish contact with the outside world.

Although it has not yet been possible to modify the traditional division of tasks by gender in which the participation of women in the tourism sector continues to be perceived as an extension of domestic tasks.

When the roles played by women in rural tourism are analyzed, they are generally in charge of the organization and logistics of rural accommodation, where they also take care of the tourist who visits the establishment.

It should be noted that rural women are characterized by their entrepreneurial and creative nature, which often allows them to manage their own businesses or work independently, this can be seen to a greater extent in the younger generations.

 

Female gauchos in Buenos Aires Estancia Tours

 

Female gaucho in an Estancia Tour

A Female gaucho in an Estancia Tour

Most rural tourism ventures today are led by women, in Argentina they lead more than 80% of rural tourism.

Tourism is consolidated as a tool that can allow the empowerment of women, in several rural communities training and workshops have been provided that have a gender perspective, these provide knowledge and training to start tourism ventures generating an increase in confidence and self-esteem of groups of women.

The benefits that rural tourism can provide are varied and generate positive changes in the lives of women, discovering new roles that they can assume, but to achieve this, tourism activity must be developed with a gender perspective.

Also since 2008, October 15th marks the International Day of Rural Women, which is consolidated as a resource to make visible and value the role of these women, and in turn demand more rights.

 

Female gauchos in San Antonio de Areco

 

Female gaucho in San Antonio de Areco

A Female gaucho in San Antonio de Areco

The participation of women during the Tradition Festival in San Antonio de Areco has always been a fact, even since the first editions they have contributed greatly to the Areco culture and the transmission of traditions just like men.

A woman was the one who brought the Creole loom to San Antonio de Areco and started a weaving loom school in the 1940s. Today the Creole loom is the tool used to make Areco`s ponchos and the textile handicrafts that are exhibited during the Festival of Traditions.

“She arrives with Ramona Risso de Beristayn who brings her to San Antonio de Areco, at that time the Mayor was José Antonio Guiraldes”. Ramona Risso de Beristayn remained for some time head of the “Academia de Teleras Criollas”, transmitting her knowledge, among others, to Guida O’Donnell, who taught her techniques “Guida was Ramona’s student.”

The Criollo and Pampa Loom Workshop at the Ricardo Güiraldes Gauchesco Museum exhibits the pieces made by students in the framework of the Traditions` Festival or in different events, and also began a technique of dyeing wool with natural dyes, something completely new in San Antonio de Areco.

The weaver woman has a lot of value for the traditions. The workshop serves as a meeting space for women, it is constituted as a learning space and has great cultural value since traditional practices continue to be transmitted for decades.

This is where women find themselves with a new role as artisans, which they try to show at the Festival of Tradition, but which was not valued when they were given a more visible space.

 

Women founding the Folckoric dances School in San Antonio de Areco

Another great contribution that Guida O’donnell made to the culture of San Antonio de Areco was in the field of dance. Supported by the “patronage” of Commodore Güiraldes, O’donnell dedicated herself to teaching and disseminating the folcloric music dances of the region such as the footprint, the “Huella” and “El Triunfo” in the historical style of Areco: “She was the one who institutionalized the dances and with dances genuinely gave it an imprint, the imprint of areco and “El Triunfo de Areco” have an imprint that was born here”

She was a folklore teacher for several generations of Areco`s neighbors, she transmitted a soft and moderate way of dancing that marks an Areco`s way of dancing southern folklore. Likewise, she carried out work on a Creole loom and transmitted her knowledge to many local women.

The dances during the Tradition`s Festival are one of the most important activities, they take place every day of the event, either as a presentation or inside a performance, even before the parade of gauchos and female gauchos begins.

Attending grocery stores was considered a male activity, in which women did not participate and if they did they were frowned upon, generally they had to stay at home to care for their children.

 

Women in San Antonio de Areco society

A rural woman explains: The Bessonart bar used to be, 20 years ago it was only for men, only men entered. That bar used to be a grocery store, today they made it a pub with all that old structure that it still maintains, but both women and men enter. Not before, the corner door was the bar and the side door on Zapiola street was the grocery and that’s where the women entered through the grocery. It’s not really that it was forbidden: it was machismo, you felt you couldn’t go in, they were all leaning on each other, smoking or having a beer, a “fernet” there at the door and it was like you couldn’t.

Women play a very active role in the gastronomy during the Festival of Tradition, since there are several canteens inside Parque Criollo and grocery stores or restaurants throughout Areco “There are canteens inside Parque Criollo that work hard: they work making empanadas or helping the grill.

The rural woman says: All men cut meat for example and women have to serve it. But you do it with pleasure because it’s a party, you don’t see it as much as there is a machismo in that sector. Generally it is the women who are in charge of cooking, but this changes when the barbecue is done since this activity is reserved for the gauchos.

Women have roles related to domestic tasks that are linked to the kitchen, in turn they are the ones who must serve food, and help men during their activities. Their participation is very active in gastronomy and adds great value to the event.

This very active role in gastronomy is also kept outside the scope of the Festival, during the “yerras” is when the butchering is carried out and the women are the ones in charge of the kitchen where various dishes are cooked, they know the recipes and the procedures.

 

Activities of the women in San Antonio de Areco

The heads of the kitchen are always women. The men did not get close. Because the work of making blood sausages, of doing a thousand things… in making different varieties of things, respect for each job… all those sectors were women’s, they did all of that. The men did the dirtiest, toughest parts, butchering, removing the bones, mincing the meat, cooking the asado all those things… But the rest, making the foie gras… is always done by the women.

Another of the activities in which the participation of female gauchos in the Festival of Tradition can be highlighted is in the organization of the event. They receive the traditionalist centers, sometimes carrying riding chairs, helping. They receive the gauchos, write them down, welcome them, if you’re on the commission you have to do that.

The role of women is very important, not only because she is the gaucho’s companion, but also because of her participation in both the parade and the organization.

 

Female gauchos horseback riding

 

Female gauchos horseback riding

A Female gauchos ready for horseback riding

The parade in the streets of San Antonio de Areco during the Tradition`s Festival is one of the most popular activities, traditional groups from other towns or provinces, gauchos, boys and girls participate here.

Previously, women participated as companions of men on the same horse but years ago they rode on their own horse, although certain rules have been imposed on them to participate. They say that women are not horsemen, but they have the essence to ride.

In 1970 it was established that women should ride sideways and not like men rode, this situation was highly criticized and was maintained for a while but later it was left aside.

At the end of the 90s, it was discussed again how women should ride on horseback, in a search of the groups that organized the event to return to the traditions as they were before, it was decided that women should ride from the side. This decision generated great controversy, since the participation of women was conditioned, they had to comply with certain norms with which not all were identified. In the year ’93-’94 there was a great discussion.

 

Female gauchos clothes

 

female gaucho clothes

The female gauchos clothing

As for the clothing: female gauchos should wear to participate in the parade, changes were also imposed, women cannot parade with pants, they must wear skirts. They didn’t want the women to parade in pants, they wanted them to do so in skirts, they don’t allow you to parade otherwise. What’s more, the women also stopped parading because of that.

The Tradition`s Festival is presented as a festive occasion, therefore the participants try to wear formal clothes and their best clothes, both men and women, which is why the idea of women wearing skirts and men typical gaucho pants. “It’s a party you have to come with the best you have, with the best horse, with the best “pilcha””

Although the women dress in country pants in their daily lives, during the event an image of the countrywoman with the skirt is shown, which is related to femininity, while the gaucho pants are reserved for the gauchos, being cataloged as a male garment that women should not wear as it would be an informal garment.

The roles that women occupy during the Tradition`s Festival are varied, they show that they are not tied to the stereotype that classifies them only as companions of the gaucho, they are also generators and transmitters of traditions.

Their participation has increased over time, they have even managed to occupy places that were previously only reserved for men, but it is a reality that there are still certain activities that are considered masculine and feminine that continue to limit the participation of both men and women. in the same.

Although there are issues that still need to be resolved, such as female gauchos participation in the rodeo, have already begun to be questioned and debated by various participants, this could mark the beginning of a very positive change that contributes to gender equality in the framework of the celebration in San Antonio de Areco.