Gauchos: the much romanticised and venerated folkloric figure of the Argentine cattle rancher. Independent, brave, and almost always male. However, times are changing, and the population of female gauchos is growing, with many women joining their fathers and brothers out on the pampas of South America. Read on to discover all about the new role of women in rural Argentina.
Like many communities, women have always been a part of gaucho life, but historically women have always been side-lined. Known as Gauchas, or the more racially charged Chinitas, or Chinas, a woman's place was in the home, raising gaucho's children, clothing them, growing crops, and feeding the family. This was an important and difficult job, growing grain, weaving clothes, cooking, cleaning, and raising a family; all not to be looked down at. But the crucial issue was that there was no choice - women were not accepted in the gaucho community, and were forced to remain in the home. Nowadays however, women more than ever have the choice as to whether they would like to be the homemaker or join the gauchos on the plains of Argentina to herd cattle like generations of men before them.
In the modern world where gender barriers are beginning to fall all over the world and while the world still has a way to go, the inequality women have faced for millennia is slowly decreasing, and women's rights have improved over the years. And today, we are all more connected than ever before, with social media making the world a much more globally interconnected place, it's easy to see how even the more remote and traditional communities will still be affected by the progression of societal norms.
The modern female gaucho lives today like any modern male gaucho; herding cattle across the breath taking plains of Argentina. However in the modern day there are many more facets to many gaucho's life; tourism accounts for a lot of cashflow into the gaucho's world, and more often than not, it is the female gauchos that run the tours and horse riding experiences for tourists.
A key element of gaucho life is the gaucho's relationship with horses. While in the 21st century in the western world, often relationships with horses are often seen as quite feminine things to have, historically in more professional settings horsemen have always been just that: men. Jockeys, trainers, grooms, farmers, polo players, cowboys, the list goes on. But again, as attitudes towards women have changed, women have taken their place by horses' sides in the workplace, even in more traditional fields - no pun intended - like farming and cattle ranching.
Traditionally, women in the rural communities of Argentina would have always worn skirts, the image of domestic life, along with white billowing shirts and often head scarfs or hats. Today, on horseback with their fellow gauchos, they would usually wear traditional trousers and gaucho hats, and you will often see a traditional polo-inspired pampeano belt around their waist. If you would like to take a look at different styles of vibrant traditional pampeano belts, we have a broad range to explore here on our website.
Ultimately, the values of being a gaucho - bravery, nobility, vigour, independence, freedom - have no gender. Women can embrace and embody these values, and can embrace the hard work that goes into the way of life just as much as men. It was only a matter of time before women became gauchos too.