photo of person from Peru Cerro de Pasco
Social Change  
Social Relationships  

Click on arrows
to find more
these themes


(PERU 28)






self-employed knitter


La Oroya




Guillermina has always lived near or in La Oroya. She is from a family of traders and farmers. She is involved in community work in the Mothers’ Clubs, and sells her knitting to supplement family income. Her husband is a self-employed bricklayer/electrician. They have seven children. She describes the trading tradition in her family and sees her work as a “help” to her family’s income.

She discusses the Mothers’ Clubs, though not in depth, which promote family welfare (nutrition and family planning). Some insights into changing gender relations: now girls have more opportunities, are better educated and more independent; but boys are less responsible and “abandon” wives and children.

She describes migrating to Lima for work - the insecurity (inflation, terrorism), lack of work for men and lack of capital to set up a business, and her discovery through her work as a domestic that she could work outside the home and still look after her kids.

detailed breakdown

You will need a password from Panos to view the full transcript of the interview. To apply for a password, click here.

Once you have a password, click here to go to the beginning of the transcript. You can also click on any section of the breakdown of content below and go straight to the corresponding part of the transcript.


Section 1  Personal details: married “young” at 16, husband from Juaja, seven children.
Section 2  Considers that girls get married young: local idea is women should be married with children in their teens. Changes in young people’s attitudes: get married young, as before, but men don’t honour commitments - more single mothers now. Hence the development of Mothers’ Clubs 6/7 years ago. She’s been in this for 3 years. Clubs provide talks on nutrition, milk for poor children, and “family guidance” (family planning) from municipal social worker.
Section 3  Family planning new, says women listen, find it useful but it’s unclear how much they use it. Thinks she’s old at 32. She had no access to family planning – would have had less children (because of expenses). Agrees family planning should be taught to young boys and girls, but doesn’t know if it happens.
Section 4  Own children - eldest 15 (girl). Both parents advise her to “protect” herself and study - want her to be a nurse or social worker. Feels it’s easier now for women to work or study. Life is harder so women have to “help out” more. Girls more independent and more educated, they know more than she did. She reached primary 5 but wanted to finish secondary. Men have always been able to do more than women. Parents preferred to educate boys as education was no use to girls.
Section 5  Parents must make sacrifices to educate kids. More schools now so education possible e.g. full secondary in their village and kids can go to La Oroya too. Her daughter doesn’t know what to study. She says medicine or something similar. Husband is a bricklayer and electrician, doesn’t always have work so she “helps out” by knitting, learned from grandmother and mother. Knits for own kids and to sell
Section 6  Husband was contract worker in Centromin foundry. Describes problems of contract work - instability, chronic lung disease. Knows several people with lung disease in La Oroya. Fumes worse in foundry but wages good. Fumes affect everyone, especially kids, and the land. Community has asked Centromin to clean it up but no results. Husband only worked on contract for Centromin for 1-2 months, he hated it, saw people taking ill.
Section 7  Father carried merchandise (foods) between towns and family lived in La Oroya. Some brothers are traders (food and clothes), one lives in La Oroya and two in Huancayo. Father has two families (“another commitment”) She’s one of five; and she has 3 half-brothers and sisters.
Section 8  Mainly a family of traders, only some cousins and uncles who worked in Centromin Grandparents were farmers from rural Yauli, but also travelled to other provinces to sell own produce. Decline in agriculture in Yauli area because of foundry fumes.
Section 9–10  People in the Yauli area now live from trading and transport though many migrate. Still has family in Yauli. Husband’s family from Juaja and also farmers, production good as no pollution there. Her husband worked in Lima for 18 months. Inflation and terrorism meant less work for husband; employers wanted people they knew. More work opportunities but more people chasing them in Lima. Went back to Oroya for work.
Section 11  Best part of Lima life - the beach. But too much travelling to work, nothing is close. They didn’t do well as had no capital to start a business. Worst part - insecurity. She was attacked twice on her way to work. La Oroya is relaxing, very little danger. Lima useful as she learned she could work (knitting and Mothers’ Club) and look after her kids. Husband and she are saving to open a shop in the market. Both will work there
Section 12  Unsure if women’s organisation will continue, but Oroyan mothers and their children need this support.