Left-behind men in Nicaragua: The rise of the Padre-Luchadores

Michael Stewart-Evans & Melissa Siegel


The purpose of this paper is to understand the impact of women's migration on the lives of the men left-behind. Based on a qualitative research methodology the study consists of twenty interviews conducted with men across three different areas in Nicaragua. These interviews were used to understand changes to household decision making and how the man perceives his own sense of masculinity. The results suggest that in contrast to previous studies which have shown a reluctance of men to partake in work traditionally associated with women, the men in this study did not avoid partaking in domestic work or childcare. It was also found that none of the men - even those in receipt of remittances - stopped working and instead placed even greater symbolic importance on their work, allowing them to maintain their identity as the main breadwinner in the house. The study proposes that more work needs to be done to better understand the challenges and changes faced by men (an understudied group of the left-behind) as the number of women migrating for work continues to rise.

Keywords: Migration, Gender, Left-behind, Masculinity, Machismo, Nicaragua

JEL Classification: F22, J13, J16

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