Childhood on Banana Plantations
I was born on 13 December. My father was a banana plantation worker and my mother was a housewife, just as the majority of women at that time in my country, Honduras. So I spent my childhood, my adolescence and my youth ‐ a large part of my life ‐ on the banana plantations.
My full name is Iris Yolanda Munguía, I graduated as a bookkeeper and public accountant. Alongside studying and working, I looked after the family – a practice which implies a great amount of sacrifice in Honduras. Some women cope with this better than
I am a single mother with four children; two boys and two girls. I have been a banana worker myself on the Chiquita plantations for 33 years of which I was the union leader for the last 32 years.
Work as a Union Leader
Getting to this point in my life hasn’t been easy. I experienced some very challenging situations before I became responsible for the Coordination of Women’s Work for the Coordinating Body of Banana and Agroindustrial Workers Unions (COSIBAH) in Honduras, suffering the macho attitudes of my male colleagues who have always had access to power and who have little trust in women in leadership positions. I went through various processes of formation and training, studying, reading, learning how to talk and to listen to others, to be analytical and critical and to look for means to understand men, women and myself.
For everyone, beginning to be empowered as a leader is difficult, especially in the case of a woman working with male leaders. And today I still smile when I hear the words, “Iris is going to speak to us now”... because the most satisfying thing about working with women is to realise that you can actually contribute to making women’s lives better.