Gender, Class, and Water: Women and the Politics of Water Service in Monterrey, Mexico


Bennett, Vivienne. 1995. “Gender, Class, and Water: Women and the Politics of Water Service in Monterrey, Mexico.” Latin American Perspectives 22 (2): 76–99.

Author: Vivienne Bennett


This article investigates how the women-led protests in Monterrey, Mexico that occurred at various points between 1970-1985 impacted water infrastructure legislation and reflected gendered aspects of Latin American urban social activism. Bennett situates her argument in literature linking gender and class as forces of double exploitation for poor urban women, as well as literature that differentiates between women protesting on the basis of practical concerns for social reproduction versus protests which are oriented around class or gender-based discrimination. When faced with problems related to their access to water, Monterrey’s housewives responded by banding together in their neighborhoods and establishing strategic plans of escalation that began with negotiation and culminated in disruption of government processes. Bennett argues that these women’s protests were a major factor in encouraging the “Water for All” national infrastructure project (which was passed incongruently during a period of restricted social expenditures) and ultimately in reconstructing their identities as proactive agents of change.


“...the protests contributed to the formation of new identities for women as the women of Monterrey made themselves the “active subjects of social change” instead of the passive objects of state decisions about public services.” (94)

“Although women in Monterrey participated in the protests out of their practical gender need for improved water services, the fact of their participation meant that they were proactive instead of passive. Even if they were not consciously striving to create new gender roles, their participation in the protests contributed to a reformulation of their identities as citizens that has been going on for some time in Latin America” (94)

Topics: Class, Economies, Economic Inequality, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Infrastructure, Water & Sanitation Regions: Americas, North America Countries: Mexico

Year: 1995

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