Demonstrating the continued input of social movements to Chavez’s presidential proposals for 2013-2019, women’s right groups presented their proposals at a televised event on 12 September at the Teresa Carreño theatre in Caracas. Chavez stressed the importance of the political participation of women in the Bolivarian Revolution, highlighting the many gains of the last 13 years, stating ‘All Venezuelan women have my deepest respect... never before has any government treated Venezuelan women with such dignity and respect,’
Whilst abortion is still a heavily debated topic in Venezuela ( ‘Venezuela: The Dangers of a Revolution against a Woman’s Right to Abortion’) many inroads have been made in addressing the issue of gender inequality. This has included social missions such as the ‘mother of the barrio’ Misión Madres del Barrio where the government pays 80% of the minimum wage to mothers who live in extreme poverty, and the inclusion in the recent New Labour Law, ratified on 1 May 2012, of legally guaranteed job security for the mother as much as the father for two years after the birth of a child, the reduction of the working week by two hours, and the right for fathers [and mothers] to be absent from work if their child is ill.
In fact the 1999 National Constitution enshrines article 76 which states ‘the father and the mother have the shared and indispensable duty of raising, forming, educating, maintaining and attending to their children’.
The list of proposals from women’s organisations, handed over to the president this week include; the free distribution of contraceptives for men and women, education in state schools to increase awareness surrounding gender equality, the creation of communal council based refuges for women who are victims of domestic violence, an increase in communal projects to care for children and the ‘socialization’ of domestic labour to allow women to participate fully in political activities. The women also demanded more state regulation over the usage of women's bodies as ‘merchandise’ in the media.
This comes in the wake of the opposition’s political rally last week where Capriles’ campaign team branded a public meeting with Venezuela women as a ‘panty-thon’. Capriles’ also recently caused controversy in Carabobo State when he interrupted a speech to remark ‘I'm impressed with how beautiful the women are’ said Capriles, ‘At times, you stop here and you have some girls in front and you start to look at them and you lose your concentration.’
Chavez will now review the proposals with a view to including them in the government strategy for the socialist transformation of the country during the next 6 years. He also stated that his government would be committed to deepening gender equality throughout his next term if he is re-elected in the October presidential elections later this year.