¿Y dónde están las mujereeees?! – No, I’m not trying to revive an old line from some sad Venevision TV show. That was me yesterday, fuming at the total absence of newly elected women MPs in the National Assembly leadership or, hell, even in the opening session’s speakers’ roster.

I know we’re still hungover-ish after yesterday’s overdose of snark on the floor. The Ramos vs Carreño. A humiliated Cilia Flores, on the phone, pretending she was not even listening to Américo De Grazia’s rip her a new one for handing diplomatic passports to her drug-trafficking nephews.

And although it looks like yesterday a la MUD no se le escapó una, the swearing-in was tainted with another missed opportunity for the New Majority to seize the spotlight and finally woman up. To show that there is a real alternative that is inclusive and also looks inclusive (and to make it up for this other time).

To our disgrace, this pitfall was first pointed out by none other than PSUV MP, Tania Diaz. That’s right, amid her nonsense diatribe about the Universidad Lisandro Alvarado getting hard currency to afford food (?) she called out the New Majority for not giving women or young MPs even a token spot in the Assembly leadership. That it took a stalinist nutter to make this point is something that should shame us.

Think about it: although the PSUV has fewer women in the AN than the New Majority – and Tania knows it, she was just taking the piss – arguably without the controversial gender parity rule introduced by the CNE at the very last minute, women in parliament would be nearly *zero*. In 2016. A scandal.

The New Majority can’t lose sight of what Venezuelans voted for: a Tamara Adrián, the first trans woman MP in Latin America, a Marialbert Barrios, 25 year old from an underprivileged background that beat a strongman from chavismo, a Manuela Bolívar who campaigned with her baby bump and breastfed in her male-dominated political meetings, and a Gladys Guaipo, the first woman from the opposition to win an indigenous seat.

In Venezuela, women accounted for about 17% of legislators in 2014, whilst in Latin America the average is 27%. If the New Majority wants to enter 21st century politics como Dios manda, it has to end the sausage fest and woman it up already.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.

73 COMMENTS

  1. I disagree of putting women in a determined post just because they’re women and to reflect an “image”, just like I disagreed with a mandatory proportion of female candidates. These kind of processes must occur naturally and by the will and effort of women ( just like men) of getting to certain post. For example, a woman could have had a candidacy for the AN presidentship, but none of them actually proposed it. I find it disingenous to women coming forth for the sole intention of “hey, we’re so progressive and new age”, while the actual shots might be taken in reality by somebody else ( like Chavez did, even if there were female directives in the AN.)

    • It’s not about BEING SEEN to have women wield power. It’s about HAVING WOMEN WIELD POWER.

      (Aunque it’s a distinction without a difference…MUD is unable to do either of those.)

      • If you really think like that, congratulations you’re a proud member of the regressive left, you should apply for a job in BuzzFeed.com or Jezebel.com

          • This is hilarious. You think demanding that HALF OF FUCKING HUMANITY get the political power and representation roughly proportionate to its numbers makes me part of the “political correctness movement”? It makes me halfway sane, is what it makes me.

          • Dear Francisco, please do not waste too much energy on these comments. The members of the troglodyte party are excellent keyboard warriors, and it is unlikely anything you write here will illuminate them or suggest to them that they should educate themselves regarding discrimination. Best wishes, D.

    • Unfortunately Juan Carlos, you are ignoring several facts which make Ana’s point a very important one. Many subsections of the human population (e.g. women, people of color, homosexuals, transgender, etc) are oppresed in many areas of life, and we can surely agree that one of the symptoms of such oppression is that these groups are underrepresented in politics. That women are not appropriately represented in the Venezuelan legislature (and its leadership) is not a result of women being less inteligent than men (which I am certain is not your argument), or that they have not put the effort in up to now (which, in turn, is your claim). It is a result of systematic sexism, which pervades most of Venezuelan culture and society, and which discourages and flat-out stops women from taking part in politics and advancing through the ranks once they have overcome all the initial hurdles. You must understand that the fact that these women have reached the National Assembly is already a much larger and more important achievement than that of their male peers, and it marks them out as extremely successful politicians already. Their non-selection as part of the AN leadership is not a result of them “not having put the effort in”, but instead a reflection of the sexism which underlies our society. Women must be given access to positions of power, and there are plenty of them which are capable and ready to do so. The “natural” process you cite is neither natural nor a process, choosing women to be part of the leadership of the AN should have been a decision, a decision to put aside our sexism.

      • I get your point daniel. The thing is that nothing must “be given to them”, everything in life must be earned and fought over. The opression you speak of is only of the measure in which an individual limits himself or herself. Where is freedom there chance, and I’ve never seen victimism and the state sponsored descrimination of benefiting one person over the other actually do anything positive, besides just more descrimination and divide. Is there sexism in our country? Hell yeah, do you want it gone? That is up to none other than our civil society, both our men and women as the use of force by the State would be counterproductive. Probably just like yourself, I want to see a world where our genitals, color of skin, whatever you can think of, are just irrelevant to any given work, but I won’t call out plain descrimination just because the AN Directive happens to be all men, just as I wouldnt care if the An Directive happened to be all women in 2017, if such a result has come out of dialogue and consensus between politicians, whatever their sex is.

        • No, I am afraid you do not get my point. “The oppression you speak of is only of the measure in which an individual limits himself or herself”? That, Juan Carlos, is ludicrous. I do not have time to educate you on matters of discrimination and segregation, so I will keep this very short. People get oppressed by other people who have more power. If you cannot understand this then you are enjoying your own privilege so much it blinds you to the systems of systematic and overt discrimination which play a role in all aspects of life in our flawed society.
          Don’t you see that one of the major roles the directors of the AN must play is making the population (the whole population) identify with them? How does Henry fulfill that? Or the other 2? What have they done in their careers that rivals Delsa’s or Tamara’s resumes?
          The sexism behind your argument is rampant. You claim these women have not “earned” or “fought over” access to significant political roles, but that instead the 3 males selected as leaders of the AN have. I wonder how you reached that conclusion.
          Oh, and by the way, the members of any government institution ARE representatives of our civil society.

  2. Fucking regressives man, there is nothing worst that asking for quotas and then pretending that’s fair.

    A baffling, retrograde decision would have been to put a woman there just because she’s a woman.

    • Absolutely. We don’t need any quotas. We don’t need pity.It’s because of the existence of these quotas that so many women still doubt themselves when they accomplish something. “Did I earn this?”, “Am I here because of affirmative action?”. At the same time giving misogynists a chance to attack us by asking those very same questions. I agree that rejecting affirmative action is counterintuitive but, even though I recognize that it’s true that there are still many barriers for women, I don’t think that complaining and asking for a “pata de gallina” is the way to go. Why? Because we don’t need it.

    • So… none of the women mentioned in the post have merits to be in the leadership? Not even a woman that took down Villegas and Bernal? 🙂

      • Neither Merkel or Tachter waited for men to give them their jobs, the first took it from his boss and the second took the leadership of the tories by herself.

      • Hey Ana! Just realized you are you. Saludos! I like Marialbert but hadn’t heard of her until now. I would have appointed Tamara Adrian as member of the junta directiva. Not only is she a woman but an activist for the rights of sexual minorities who have waaay more difficulty being heard. On the other hand I feel sorry for the Gran Polo Patriotico women who are sitting there right now looking like barajitas in a Panini album.

        • hahah then you are THAT Diana Topel? 🙂 Holaaa! Agree in an ideal world I would’ve loved to see Tamara there! (also she’s a crack lawyer!)

          • AND Tamara is there without a LGBT quota! So no “rabo de paja” to light on fire questioning her right to be there! Feliz año my friend.

  3. Not only females, but Jews and disabled people are also important in leadership roles. Argentina is a superb example of that…

    President: jew
    vice-president: female and disabled

    You can’t do much better than that. A great example for the whole world.

      • I agree, but you would obviously take their competency for the job into consideration, right?
        Because to put them there just for the sake of political correctness wouldn’t very right. And notice that pc is absolutely not the case in Argentina, as Macri and Michetti are the best of the best.

  4. Perhaps what we need is a campaign from now on….perhaps not quotas but a really aggressive, intelligent campaign.

    As Cato the Elder used to finish every speech with “ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam”, some of our public figures – don’t expect our deputies to do so – need to finish theirs with “La Asamblea debe tener una mayor proporción de mujeres”

  5. I for one agree. Over and over its been said that senators and the such vote along the party lines, *except* on those few times the issues discussed affect them directly. Its not hard seeing how for example, that one fanatic PSUV congressman would object an hipotetical law to fuck over left handed people if he were to be one of those about to be fucked by it. A congress of right handed men and only right handed men might over look that look and just go fuck the zurdos, but if you have even representation, so to speak, maybe someone would actually give a fuck about those who use the “devils hand” to write.

    Now switch left handed for women and realize why its so fucking hard to get abortion laws approved.

  6. Did the MUD fulfilled the mandatory quota of female candidates? I suppose so otherwise the chavistas would have used that against them.

    If they were not elected, it’s not the MUD’s fault. It’s the voters’ fault.

    • Hi Carolina, yes that was my point. They both fulfilled the quota and there is still a minority of women MPs… imagine this AN w/o the quota?

      • I honestly don’t think it would be much different.
        And I also hope that those women that were elected, are there because they really want to work. Not only to fulfill the quota.
        BTW, I would also like to see more openly gay people there…

        • I doubt they’re there just to tick the quota box. Imagine all the hands they have to shake on their way up and how many people (men) you need to convince to even be considered for las primarias. Agree with LGBT community. We need more or *everything*.

    • MUD did filled their mandatory quota… by filling up the substitutes lists with women. That is not okay. There are great women who, in some cases, should have been MPs, not subs.

  7. Please, please, when making a seemingly progressive argument, let’s avoid mentioning God. I mean, from yesterday’s ‘event’ at the AN, one of the saddest things was the increased mentions to religious imaginary in what ought to be a Republican act. There is no ‘Dios manda’ with respect to gender equality.

    • This one made me almost more cross than the shithead troglodytes above. There are millions of catholic women in Venezuela who need representation just as much as your secular buddies, RaulCF. You think secular extremists own this issue somehow? Cripes!

      Man I’m grouchy today…

      • Grouchy indeed.

        Well, yes, they indeed need representation. Not only that, they already have it, lots of representatives of the SECULAR state already speak representing religious perspectives. In that case, Jews, Muslims and ‘secular’ buddies also need representation. The only way for all of us to feel minimally respected is for a reasonable separation between state and Church.

  8. Why won’t we establish a quota to get more men into nursing or veterinary medicine so it can be 50-50 too? Or maybe stablishing a quota for hard labour jobs like garbage disposal or working at a mine so it can be 50-50 too? Gosh, its almost like you’re supporting condescending quotas for the sake of being oh so “progressive” or “foward thinking” because that’s what’s trending now

    • Not enough male preschool teachers either. So unfair… 🙂
      Back to the point, I’m glad that Gaby Arellano got a chance to speak today. I think she did great. And I think she would be there regardless of the quota. Maybe I’m too optimistic.

    • Quotas exist (controversially) to deal with the issue of representation which is naturally related to power (business boards, parliaments and whatnot). Not necessarily to deal with our taste on certain professions. But I would agree on gender quotas for students taking gender studies, for instance. We need more men taking those 😉

  9. “These kind of processes must occur naturally and by the will and effort of women ..”

    Not with a bunch of misogynistic machista men in charge.. that’s the problem.

    I work in an industry where 30 years ago it was thought only men could handle the real work, and 10% of women were only capable of being secretaries. Now nearly 50% are women, and they are more than capable of any work, and many up to being very qualified executives.

    It comes down to opening the door of opportunity after you open your mind.

    Anyone man who can’t see this needs to go home and have this conversation with their wife.. good luck with that.

  10. I applaud your post, Ana. It is a disgrace that the MUD could not find a single woman to be part of the directive.

    It is not a matter of quotas, it is a matter of being a modern society in which women, and men, are part of its development. The groups/societies that are successful are those that prone *diversity*. Diversity is indeed the key for a strong and flourishing democracy.

    For sure, having women in power does not guarantee democratic success, chavismo gave us a clear example when the most important positions in government besides the President were held by women. After all, fanatism is an equal-opportunity commodity. However, having only men in positions of power, in 2016, is a sure bet for failure.

  11. Taking into account that Capriles was the youngest president of the AN with only 25 years old, and he was a total nobody back then, and that we have now at least one woman with pretty much the same resume, it’s astonishing the amount of people, mostly men, that don’t get the point.

    I’m not calling blindness or stupidity anymore, this is just plain defense of the status quo.

  12. I applaud the post as well. I for one found myself as Anna agreeing with Tania Diaz for that brief moment. In fact, one just has to read the comments to understand why there is none:
    Standard comments in this thread: “oh we are fair, but only if the woman really deserves and fights for it” (tell that to Marialbert or Gaby in their faces, be my guest), “we are modern and progressive, but god forbid shall we lower our standards to accept women” (note you just put Ramos Allup up there, give me a break!), “why are there no quotas in nursing/kindergarten teacher” (surely these are women-appropriate jobs, feel free to fight that one). Read the literature, this is pretty standard fare. Join the modern world, stop making these arguments.

    • Hi Platy. I take issue with your comment about “nursing/kindergarten teacher” being a more “women-appropiate job”. Even though I agree with you on this (!), I can’t help but point out that our greatgrandfathers probably thought that women had no place in Congress (if only to prepare coffee and clean). I want to call your atention to the fact that maybe many people think that being a deputy is a man’s job, just like you feel that being a kindergaten teacher is a woman appropiate job. God help men who want to be nurses/kindergarten teachers in the future.

      • Hi Diana,
        I was hoping all 3 statements would be taken with equal sarcastic tone … but we betray ourselves all the time.
        Platy

        • Oh, okok. So you don’t think that kindergarten teacher is a more women-appropiate job? I’m so confused! Just to be clear, I do think it is. I also think that women in general, by nature, make better government officials and agree with Ana that there should be more women at the AN, just not because of mandatory quotas/affirmative action. I truly feel they are counter productive.

          • Interesting, it wasn’t meant to be confusing. I do think that there are men that would do a good job at kindergarten teachers. The fact that you do not see many of them (probably none in Venezuelan society) is because of the same biases that prevent women from AN jobs.

            As to affirmative action/quotas, it all seems very unnecessary in theory but the CNE just demonstrated for us (out of an evil policy I grant you) that in real life it is what it takes. There’d be virtually no women on the opposition slate if it was not for Tibisay (of all people). Once you have critical mass and place checks and balances in the system then it becomes less necessary, I agree with that.

            The arguments against quotas is the usual: “we should not lower the standards or accept somebody who is not good enough”. As it turns out, all of the sudden when you have them you find out all of these people that are great that were there all along but were not making the cut, eg. Marialbert, Karin, Elimar, Gaby, Manuela, Tamara! etc etc. In the case of women, this is just plain stupid as you are throwing out 50% of your pool and in the case of the opposition, they were throwing out people that could in fact win those districts! (see Pedro Rosas point below, for other reasons why adding women is the politically smart thing to do).

  13. In the U.S. a first year congressman is never given a key committee position. They have to work their way up. While I understand Ana’s sentiments, because there were previously very few women elected, that makes the new women deputies junior. It is not asking too much all of the new deputies (including the women) prove themselves through hard work before being assigned to important positions.

    • There are qualified women to be part of the AN’s leadership. For example: Delsa Solorzano (UNT’s second official in the nation) or Dinorah Figuera (Presided one of the commissions in the last AN) or Adriana D’Elia (Second in charge of Miranda). I better see women represented in the Palatino list. I better see a Maria Corina Machado there. MUD is definitely lacking when it comes to equality.

  14. In the end we need the best person for the given job, and the point worth noting is that if a male gets the job simply out of reflex, and the more resourceful female gets passed over, we all get gyped if results are important.

  15. In the end we need the best person for the given job, and the point worth noting is that if a male gets the job simply out of reflex, and the more resourceful female gets passed over, we all get gyped if results are important.

  16. Right on, Platy!! Word. Seems like some Venezuelans need to learn more about the sources of gender (and other types of) inequality…

  17. I dont know it you gals are looking at the news coming from the NA right now but this is not the moment to raise fanciful exquisitively moral divisive issues between ourselves , there is a time for everything and this is not the time to distract ourselves from concentrating on the existential struggle that is going on this very hour in order to pay attention to some frivolous developed world hoity toity concern …….!! Wake up to the current crisis we are living ……….

    Generally the world we are living in cant allow itself the privilege of dispensing with the best leadership simply because of reasons of gender and that the rise of bias free opennes of opportunity for smart females is both deserving and inevitable !! Only NOT NOW….NOT HERE !!

  18. In general, I don’t like gender or race quotas, but do agree there’s place for it in some cases.

    I have many issues with MUD’s missed opportunity in bringing forward more female deputies, but the one I’ll like to raise is that it shows a lack of awareness about where the opposition’s strength has been coming from all these years. In polls (and exit polls) of past elections you’ll see MUD dominating with women, but lagging way behind with male voters. (I haven’t seen the polls by gender for 6D to check if this remains the same). MUD’s large lead with women voters was across all ages. It was beaten handily by PSUV among men of 40+ years.

    I’m sure that MUD could have found many capable and deserving woman among its deputies, so its parliamentary leadership would more closely mirror the profile of its voters.

  19. Quotas operate under the assumption that people are ordinarily biased and will act against their interest by refusing to appoint the best qualified person because of their gender , thus it presumes peoples bad faith ,

    To remedy the consequences of that presumed bias the quota system compells people to make appointments on the basis of a candidates gender rather than on the basis of an assesment of all their personal qualifications . Such system evidently will often result in people being appointed who don’t offer the best qualifications simply because they are of the right sex . This is runs counter to rational decisionmaking and produces sub optimal results .

    Quota systems also assume that qualifications apportion themselves homogeneously between genders , so that the number of qualified people of one gender is exactly the same as those of people belonging to another gender. This of course if pure hog wash. In real life talent is not homogeneously distributed in all cases , Often it will favour persons of one sex over those of another .

    In democratically run politics appointments are the result of bargains were many factors are weighted in beside a persons gender , specially were many different groups need to be given a piece of the pie to secure their adhesion, just reaching those bargains is extremely difficult as each group fights for is own ´space in the sun’ , to add in the wrench of a persons gender makes the bargain much more difficult to accomplish , Making people who have different preferences and agendas join together in a common cause is a very very daunting task , specially in politics , specially in Venezuela , adding one more factor to the salad of considerations that must be taken account of makes the task so much more complex and difficult to achieve putting at risk the benefits that a bargain between different groups can produce .

    Bargains don’t achieve absolutely just results , that’s impossible , they achieve results that work , they seek not abstract perfection but some practical outcome , that are better than the alternative …… to make beautifully just demands on the people who work at those bargains just doesn’t cut it …….perfection is not a priority , getting a working alliance of people to restore the country to its institutional foundations, is !!

  20. Bill, gender IS important and should be part of the bargain. Why? Because otherwise you end up with monolitic groups of power and, as I expressed in my comment above, diversity is essential for success.

    In 2016, quotas or no quotas, there cannot be any serious decision making group composed of just men or just women, period. How can one achieve that is a matter of preference (compromise, quotas, randomness, etc. etc.).

  21. Ok, so I need to get this off my chest…

    I have changed my mind about this topic after reading this today in the book “Poor economics” by MIT professors Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo:

    “Can good policies be a first step to good politics? (…) In West Bengal, in GPs that had never been reserved for women leaders, 10 percent of the pradhans (posicion de gobierno en la India) in 2008 were women. Nor surprinsingly, the share jumped to 100 percent when the seats were reserved for women. But, once a seat that had been reserved went back to being open, women were more likely to be elected again: The share of women elected increased to 13 percent for currently unreserved seats that had been reserved once in the past and 17 percent if they had been reserved twice. The same thing applied to city government representatives in Mumbai. One reason for this is that voters’ attitudes towards women changed. In West Bengal, to measure prejudices about competence, villagers were asked to listen to a recording of a leader’s speech. All villagers heard the same speech but some heard it spoken in a male voice, and others in a female voice. After they heard the recording, they were asked to judge its quality. In villages that had never had reserved seats for women, and therefore had no experience of a woman leader, men who heard the ‘male’ speech gave higher approval ratings than those who heard the ‘female’ speech. On the other hand, in villages that had been reserved for women before, men tended to like the ‘female’ speech better. Men did recognize that women were capable of implementing good policies and changed their opinion of women leaders”

    Now, I still think that these measures should be taken with a grain of salt. I agree that good well designed policies can break the cycle of historically wrong situations, however it shouldn’t become the norm and never end. Once it has served its purpose it needs to go. Also, there should be no coercion from the government, that is no mandatory quotas for private enterprise.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here