MUD, the Sausage Fest

Yesterday, when Tibi announced that they were going for “full on gender equality” in the candidate lists… I cackled. You know why? Because we’ve known this was coming...

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Sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage,  delicate flower
Sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, sausage, delicate flower.

Yesterday, when Tibi announced that they were going for “full on gender equality” in the candidate lists…

I cackled.

You know why? Because we’ve known this was coming since March. Bocaranda and Diosdi both warned us. And the MUD decided to look the other way. I mean, every election the CNE has been tugging our ears over our female participation.

If you didn’t think Chavismo was going to “attack” and make arbitrary hoops for the oppo to jump before the election,  you were deluding yourself. But for me, that’s not the issue here, the issue is  that female representation is our weakest point. It’s shameful.

Following Tibi’s demand, MUD answered something along the lines of “this is unconstitutional: you can’t change the rules after the game has started.” Which, as far as it goes, is true enough.

That message got muddled, though, when MUD Secretary General Chuo Torrealba started ranting about “The Venezuelan Woman”.

You know what I’m talking about, right? The long-suffering housewife who’s only concern in the world is that she can’t find the basic goods in the supermarket, milk for the babies and medicine in the pharmacy.

Fercryingoutloud, Chuo, it’s 2015!

Yes Chuo, women are conflicted with the price of groceries, the scarcity and the unrelenting queues, but so are men. Men also share the burden of the milk, of the diapers, of the medicine. Men are also taking care of their home.

But you know what, there are also professional women in Venezuela who are conflicted when we cant buy their cars, when they  can’t afford their own housing, when they can’t find funding for their research, when they don’t see a way to further their careers, when their PhD salary is not enough for them to live independently, women who can’t change their assigned gender, women who can’t have access to abortions for pregnancies resulting from rape, women who can’t marry the one they love.

You’d think they don’t exist.

It’s time to face it guys: the MUD has a sexism problem. It’s a sausage fest.

Look at the photos! If Delsa Solórzano didn’t exist, they’d have to invent her.

In Mexico, 37% of members of congress are women. In Argentina it’s 36%. In Costa Rica 33%. Even in Colombia, which lags badly for the region, it’s 20%. And in Venezuela – no thanks, shamefully, to MUD – it’s 17%.

And in MUD’s candidate list? 11%!

I mean, Tibi could have called for 30%, you don’t have it, 20%?, you don’t have it, 15% you don’t have it.

I know, I know, the timing is designed with pure politics in mind. “Now is not the right time to talk about this.” Right?. Shh Shh, let us do this first, then we can get to you.

It’s never the right time to have a debate you’re desperate to avoid.

Well, you know what, beggars can’t be choosers. Tibi forced this debate: let’s have it!

I want the MUD to address this, now, today. I want it to take a long hard look at itself and make the changes.

I for one, agree with quotas, I believe they are a mechanism that understands that women’s roles in politics are not limited purely their “choice to participate”, which is something I read a lot yesterday on twitter; That women just don’t choose to be in politics, that women are not interested in politics, that women decide to “lean out” of politics. When the truth is much more complicated than that. It is institutionalized sexism, it is politic, economic, social, cultural and religious constraints that limits women’s participation in the political sphere.  I also think that using quotas is a way of saying, “Hey, I know this game is rigged, I know you are playing with the odds against you, I recognize that society is like this, and I am working to make this better”.

And I’m not the only one who thinks this way, almost half of the countries of the world use some type of quota system for their parliament.

The quota project is a global database of quotas for women. It is a joint project by  IDEA , Stockholm University and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Where they collect data from countries using quotas and evaluate their effectiveness. The basis being that:

Given the slow speed by which the number of women in politics is growing, there are increased calls for more efficient methods reach a gender balance in political institutions. Quotas present one such mechanism. The introduction of quota systems for women represents a qualitative jump into a policy of exact goals and means. Because of its relative efficiency, the hope for a dramatic increase in women’s representation by using this system is strong

Yes, relative efficiency, it’s not a magical cure, it’s not going to bring about gender equality with the swipe of the wand. But it’s a tool within  toolkit to start making serious progress in that area.

Yes it is out of time, yes, the government is using this to hinder the elections, but look at the bigger picture, you should  recognize that you have dropped the ball in gender issues, at the very least, you owe us that.

Because you know what Chuo, the MUD has hard time recognizing female leadership. Because it seems to me, that the only role for woman in the MUD is as wives, who will be there to help their husbands career along when the government lands them in jail or exiles them.

So  pick up the ball. I’m sure the “Frente Femenino de las Mujeres de la Mesa de la Unidad Democrática”, can help find the right candidates for the job.

For my part, I hope to see Tamara Adrian, Adriana D’Elia, Liliana Hernández, Maria Corina Machado, Linda Loaiza López, Delsa Solórzano on the ballot.