How will our women help solve our conflict?

The role of women in Venezuelan society is a topic that is rarely discussed.

Our media tends to portray women as either helpless victims, sex objects, or chavista firebrands. Sometimes we see in the choices of poor women the root causes of poverty – just yesterday, we highlighted a 31-year old single mother of five that appears in Boris Muñoz’s article on the Torre de David, and I’m sure many of you wondered about the fate of those kids, just like I did.

Yet there is one role for Venezuelan women that is rarely discussed: women all over the world are being empowered in order to help foster peace and security.

While I was in Halifax, I met the Director of the Institute for Inclusive Security, an NGO that promotes peace and security through the education and empowerment of women. She told me about very interesting programs their organization has in the Middle East.

Women there are rarely the conduits of terrorism, but they are always its main victims. Fundamentalist Islam targets women, yet even when they are not the main victims of violence and even enslavement, they are losing their sons, husbands, and fathers to the ongoing encroachment of dangerous ideologies.

The women themselves must play a significant role in pushing against this. By joining together, women can create a powerful force for containment and rejection of violence as a way of life.

I’m no expert on this topic, so I’ll stop writing now. But the point got me thinking about the role our women can play in reducing the enormous levels of violence we see in our home.

Venezuela is a deeply matriarchal society, but it seems to me that we don’t take advantage of that. Women in Venezuela are strong and powerful, and they play a huge role in our families and in our culture. They could do more if given the tools. Just like in the rest of the world, women are rarely the culprits of our violence, and more often than not they are its main victims.

Something tells me that a decisive turn for peace can only come about if and when women take a stand, when the mothers, daughters, wives, and girfriends of our malandros finally say enough, and they impose a culture of peace and disarmament.

How you accomplish that is the tricky part. But it’s something that needs to be done.

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