Women of the Forest (2013)

Women of the Forest portrays a working day in the life of a group of women forest guardians in Mexico City who look after a woodland located in San Pablo Oztotepec, a small village in Milpa Alta, a semi-rural region on the outskirts of Mexico City. I was invited to spend the day with them and document their working conditions.

This unique collective of female guardians is the only one of its kind in Mexico City. Their work is vital in keeping the forest healthy and fire-free; they are committed and devote most of their time to this job even though their working circumstances are poor and unstable and their wages are meagre; their tools, work-wear and transport are inadequate and do not conform with health and safety regulations. This occupation is their main source of income and the schedule allows them to look after their families whilst undertaking side jobs in order to contribute financially to their households.

In order to raise awareness of their issues sociologist Alicia Eguiluz worked with the group for twelve months providing workshops on themes of gender awareness and oral history resulting in the book 'The Women of the Forest of San Pablo Oztotepec, Milpa Alta: Ten Testimonies of Life and Work', a compilation of life stories in their own words published in 2016 with financial support from Mexico City's Secretary of Culture through their PACMyC grants programme.

Thanks to the women’s perseverance and resilience they received an award from the Mexican government in 2014 however despite their repeated requests to improve their employment circumstances and conditions they have remained the same to this day.

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