chapter  3
16 Pages

The Social Invisibility of Women's Work in Brazilian Agriculture

WithCheywa R. Spindel

This chapter examines the "invisibility" of working women in Brazil. The male household head in Brazilian rural areas has traditionally had absolute control over the labor power of family members and over the distribution of the fruits of household production. The man has received full credit for household reproduction—a factor that serves to hide the economic and domestic participation of women and children. Household production provided the basis for the development of capitalist agriculture in Brazil. Although women were not included on the coffee plantation payroll lists, they were counted, along with children, as workers in the calculations for the distribution of coffee land to each family of tenant farmers. Women played an important role in the development of Brazilian agriculture precisely because household-based production kept costs low, allowing cheap foodstuffs to be the basis for the expansion of capitalism until the mid-1960s.