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Thursday, July 22, 1999 Published at 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK

World: Americas

Mexican women stop ironing

Mexico City: A modern city with old fashioned attitudes

By Peter Greste in Mexico City

For many men and their children across Mexico City, Thursday may not be an easy day.

Gabriela Delgado: "Democracy begins in the home."
They may well find themselves having to prepare meals, iron their clothes, make the beds and wash the dishes - in many cases for the first time.

In a society where heating a tortilla can be seen as an affront to a man's masculinity, a typical Mexican male may never have been near a stove and certainly not a baby's dirty nappy.

But a city council agency called Colectivo Atabal is hoping that thousands of women will abandon their kitchens and ironing boards to join a citywide strike in an attempt to show their families just how hard they really work.

[ image:  ]
The strike is part of a wider programme of forums and debates across the capital aimed at getting the value and importance of housework recognised.

The project's co-ordinator, Gabriela Delgado, said since the economic crisis of the mid-1990s, many women have had to get paid work to keep families going, without giving up their traditional roles in the home.

Family responsibility

"We want housework seen as a family responsibility, she said. "It is not good enough that all the work falls to women when they too have to go out and earn."

But traditions die hard in Mexico and it is not clear how many women will be brave enough to heed the call.

Government studies show that Mexican men are amongst the most reluctant in Latin America to share the burden of housework, and many women are simply too deeply immersed in the old ways to give it up - even for a symbolic day.

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