Paid Agroindustrial Work and Unpaid Caregiving for Dependents: The Gendered Dialectics between Structure and Agency in Colombia



Export-oriented industries, such as floriculture, have long been promoted as tools for international development and economic growth. In addition, women's employment has been promoted as key to improving gender equity and alleviating poverty. Indeed, the floriculture industry in Colombia has been a source of empowerment and security for women, given the absence of employment alternatives and a sociocultural milieu that had proscribed participation by rural women in the formal labor sector. Yet, after three decades of floriculture production, the industry is at a crossroads in terms of worker turnover. The claims of job insecurity still leveled against the industry by labor advocates are quite the opposite in that worker turnover might be compromising the industry's future. Why do workers, in particular women, leave one farm after a few months or 1 or 2 years of working there? This article explores the dialectic of structure and agency issues between the floriculture industry and its workers.