Rute Caldeira


The present article examines the processes of inequality reproduced inside the MST-run rural encampments; specifically the ones affecting women the most, and in particular women heads of households. This examination leads to the related consideration of the relationship between the MST, its lideranças, and women settlers. Although women are the ones most affected by these processes of inequality, their disadvantaged position is ignored by the movement, in theory an organisation on the Left. This relationship between the MST and women or ‘women’s issues’ mirrors the old question of the ‘failed marriage’ between women, feminism and the Left in Latin America. Finally, it is argued that two main obstacles prevent women who remain inside the MST-run encampments and settlements from organising autonomously: the lack of community and/or the institutional weight of the social movement. Hence, either the MST drops its reluctance to deal with ‘women’s issues’ and acts upon them, or women will have to effectively join outside women’s organisations that provide them the support and information needed to fight for their emancipation, against inequality, as well as against the social movement’s phobia of approaching all things deemed class divisive.

Author Biography

Rute Caldeira, School of Law, The University of Manchester