Gender Inequality in Puerto Rico Is About to Get Worse

Article/Op-Ed in Slate
Oct. 12, 2017

Alieza Durana wrote for the Better Life Lab blog on Slate on gender inequality in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, San Juan’s Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz has emerged as a real-life Wonder Woman, wading through flood waters to find her constituents, handing out solar lamps to heartbroken families, and passionately demanding help from a reluctant federal government. She’s one of many Puerto Rican women who’ve been key to its development in hard times. “Historically, women have carried movements but been silenced. In many ways, she’s more qualified to lead than the governor. I see her as tied to the modern Puerto Rican woman in terms of her education [and] business background, now taking the lead,” says Mirelsie Velazquez, a Puerto Rican woman herself and assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Oklahoma, of San Juan’s mayor.

But for all the incredible progress and strength Cruz represents as a new feminist icon, the worst is still ahead for Puerto Rican women in general, and not just because of the hurricane. “There was a short time period before the recession when different types of employment opportunities grew for women. However, what’s going to happen now is that the markets they’ve entered have been destroyed,” says Velazquez.