Women’s Rights in Venezuela: a Hypocritical Mirage Called “Feminist Revolution”

Photo: Su Noticiero

“Feminist.” That’s is how Hugo Chávez declared himself and his Bolivarian revolution. Nicolás Maduro followed his example.

But what would you say if I told you there’s a severe contraceptive, condom and sanitary pad shortage, and that the few products available are so expensive that the vast majority of women can’t afford them?

Would you call “feminist” a government that, in almost two decades, has done nothing to guarantee women’s political participation and economic independence?

Would you consider as “feminist” a regime that allows a 66% increase in maternal mortality a year, remains silent around issues like abortion, and exhibits the second highest teenage pregnancy rate in Latin America and the Caribbean?

You may think I’m exaggerating. I’m not.

According to official figures cited in Mujeres al Límite, for every 100 men who lived in poverty during chavismo, there were 107 women; for every 100 men living in extreme poverty, there were 112 women; 4 of 10 households are headed by a female; 99.48% of those who ceased to be economically active between December 2014 and December 2015 were women: they’re the first to leave the labor market to either line up for hours in front of supermarkets, look after others or search for medicines. Many enter the informal sector, where they can combine work and family, but lack social protection and are vulnerable to exploitation and health risks.

Source: Instituto Nacional de Estadística, INE. Labour Force Indicators.

Women’s share in Parliament is only 20%, below regional and world averages, and Maduro’s cabinet is far from the 50/50 a feminist government could brag about. Of 31 cabinet ministries, only four are headed by women.

It’s been 19 years since Chávez’ Bolivarian political project came to power on a platform that promised deep transformations and social justice. Issues of gender equality made it to the highest levels of political discourse and became omnipresent in the government’s narrative, only to be later used in an increasingly manipulative and deceptive manner, mostly subordinated to the regime’s political and ideological agenda.

Thus, the feminist revolution is no more than an illusion.

Chavismo’s brand of feminism puts forward the idea that gender equality is only possible in a socialist state. So, dismantling capitalist structures would be a precondition for bridging the gender gap.

Now, we could argue at length about capitalism’s many flaws and its impact on societies’ most vulnerable demographics. But there’s no evidence that a socialist state would guarantee gender equality; the argument ignores that patriarchy predates capitalism and its origin has to do with asymmetrical power relations between men and women, regardless of capital or means of production controlled by private or public hands.

They’re the first to leave the labor market to either line up for hours in front of supermarkets, look after others or search for medicines.

The accent of all the government’s actions is not on empowering women, then; or on reaching gender equality; it’s on getting women to work along political and ideological lines, to establish a socialist state. It’s a well-known fact that many of the government-sponsored local participation structures, including the infamous Comités Locales de Abastecimiento y Producción, or CLAPS, are comprised mostly by women.

And instead of challenging women’s traditional role in society —something one would expect a feminist government to do— the official discourse reinforces and promotes a vision of women as child bearers and caregivers, not as students, researchers, entrepreneurs or scientists. The government’s approach on women issues is asistencialista, fostering dependence on a State that tacitly demands subordination and passivity.

Venezuelan women got to this International Women’s Day more vulnerable than ever before to poverty, violence, hunger, malnutrition and poor health. All this, thanks to a combination of political-ideological bias, incompetence and negligence, in the context of the serious humanitarian emergency Venezuela is facing.

So next time you hear that Venezuela’s revolution is feminist, you know it’s simply not true.

A longer version of this article was published in Women Across Frontiers.


Update: A previous version of this post stated “99.48% of those who lost their jobs between December 2014 and December 2015 were women”, just like it was reported in Mujeres al Límite. However, the numbers actually show that “99.48% of the those who ceased to be economically active between December 2014 and December 2015 were women”. The update was approved by the author of this post. 

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  1. Luisa, you lost me at “99.48% of those who lost their jobs between December 2014 and December 2015 were women.” That can’t possibly be true… That one statistic makes the rest of the article very questionable.

    • It’s more believable than six billion in Petros. I’d read the 99.48% as a math slip, possibly taking the job loss of the smaller percentage of women who actually held jobs incorrectly as a percentage number in the computation. If 20% of all jobs were held by women, and 21% of women lost those jobs, then 20/21 would be approximately 95%. If you’re not a mathematician it isn’t too hard to get lost in the numbers, especially when they are so alarming they defy common sense. How do you get any sense out of a 1976 bolivar being the equivalent of some 400 million BF today (or whatever the actual comparison is in real purchasing power taking declines in wages and standards of living into account)? How do you make sense of a bus fare being a fraction of a penny? Just hypothetically, if men took women’s jobs, and men actually had an increase in jobs of 20%, while 20% of women lost their jobs, then it would be possible for 99% of job loss to have been women.

      I don’t know which numbers were used to get 99.48%, but I still don’t discredit the rest of the numbers.

      • Hi guys, thank you for pointing out this error in the text. It is certainly referred to economically active population and those who ceased to be in that category (please see the disclaimer above). We will correct the issue in the report as well. Apologies for this mistake and the confusion created. It is encouraging to have engaged readers like you.

    • Good point. Makes no sense.

      It would only make sense if women comprised, let’s say, just 5% of the workforce. Then, a significantly higher percentage of them leaving compared to men MAYBE, and it would still be a ridiculous long shot, bring you to a not believable 99 plus %.

      Also, with so many VZers working in the unofficial/informal marketplace (what do they call that nowadays anyway?), how do any of these statistics matter?

      They’re just numbers conjured out of thin air, and it’s the same when either the opposition or Chavistas do it.

    • Taken at face value, this mean that out of 10,000 people who were fired or laid off that year, only 52 were men and 9,948 were women.

      We need some clarification here.

    • she uses something called “economically active” – look at her table. I have no idea what that means, but these days if the narritiv calls for drama, you come up with a vague phrase/statistic to garner your outrage outrage. Sort of like stating 4/5 woman are “sexually assaulted in college? sounds crazy, until the fine print in which you learn that the definition of sexual assault includes some kid she was not attracted to leered at her. by that definition, I will accept 4/5. It may cheapen the true assault/rape victims, but this is about narrative.

      I have no doubt that brunt of dealing with the lack of food, trying to take care/feed/dress/keep safe the family is mostly (but not exclusively) born by women in Venezuela. And, I can see that if they are desperate to feed starving children, they may cling to the Chavismo CLAP CRAP.

      OK – so what about it? Just complain, or do something? Rid the disaster that is Chavismo socialism, and women’s lives will improve dramatically in Venezuela. Otherwise, I guess continue to complain and live in misery.

  2. Well, most Venezuelan women voted for Chavismo, not just once, but repeatedly. And many are wise enough to still venerate and adore the Chabestia. Today. Many top Chavista Criminals are women, including my official candidate for Primera Dama de la Republica Bolibanana, the glamorous Mademoiselle Iris Varela. You have our ‘primera combatiente’ Cilia who rules el Burro, we, has Luisita Ortega, head of the Judicial den of thieves and thiveresses, TibiBitch in charge of elections, and Delcy, another the whore on the highest of positions. In that sense, Chabestia delivered, didn’t he?

    – Then again we have MCM and Lilian, chapeau to both of those ladies.

    – Why do Klepto-Cubazuelan women have the second highest rate of teenage pregnancy? That of course people don’t like to talk about.. I suspect because they’re also among the most ignorant, less educated on the planet. Teen pregnancy is usually directly correlated, look no further than our sister shithole countries, Haiti or Zimbabwe. They’re probably high up there on that ignominious list too, Somalia..

    That said, women are good for street protests. They often seem even more courageous than men. They are less likely to be beaten up or arrested, gotta like the way they get on the Sebin or Guardia Nazional’s faces. Hopefully they will finally be really pissed off after the mega-fraud, after they stop getting their bribes as empleadas publicas enchufadas (probabably around a couple million of kleptozuelan enchufada ladies) when Rex cuts off his $35 Million/day, as the economy gets even worse in May. When those street protests fail again, unfortunately, (because the Genocidal Tyranny still has cash from the Drug Trade to bribe the Sebin, GNB and the military to repress the protests), then the women will still be needed to support the DEA and the US Marines, who might be graceful enough to come to the rescue of said hopeless women.

    • “Well, most Venezuelan women voted for Chavismo, not just once, but repeatedly….”

      Do you have statistics to back this assertion up, or are you doing your usual make it up as you go along?

      People like you are one of the main reasons Chavismo managed to win hearts and minds.

      • Do you EVER contribute anything original about the specific topic? or just bitch and say nothing.

        Aren’t women about half of the voting population, retard? Didn’t the majority of the population vote repeatedly for chavismo? Do the math, Forest.

        • Original? This coming from the ultimate repetitive troll who keeps his comments close by to copy paste them.

          What original thought, pray tell, have you contributed these last few years Sledge?

          Your posts are all identical. You repeat them ad nauseam on different blogs.
          You even have the temerity of posting under different names to support your drivel.
          Or do you think people can’t tell from the language and sentence structure you use?

          Grow up, chamito. Devote that energy to something constructive, if only to save yourself from yourself

          • Roberto,
            Careful who you scold so carelessly. He is BFF with his buddy Rex he knows certain things we don’t. His insight regarding the US Policy is profound. His disdain for those who don’t “fall in line” and “get with the program” is absolute. Show some respect for this pueblo.

  3. “Women’s share in Parliament is only 20%, below regional and world averages, and Maduro’s cabinet is far from the 50/50 a feminist government could brag about. Of 31 cabinet ministries, only four are headed by women”

    What proves that the situation in Venezuela is basically wolves (men) oppressing sheep (women).

    Who created Chavismo?

    All of them were men, nothing of that magnitude and monstrosity would have been created without men behind, anyway; the women were just passengers all along. A careless observer could point Tiby, Ortega Diaz, Iris Varela, etc, as examples of women who have truly contributed to the Venezuela of today, and they would be right, but they would be omitting how these women have been manipulated by the men of Chavismo in the first place. They had been led astray. Do you think fucking Tiby or Iris would have created Chavismo? Never. Their brains simply can’t fathom something like that.

    If women have one sin in all this tragedy of Venezuela, that would be giving birth to the likes of Cabello, Maduro and Chavez.

    • Who created chavismo?
      How about the ignorant, stupid people who voted for the moron and believed that there really was a way to have everything handed to them.
      Women led astray… whatever…

      • Most of the Venezuelans abroad, the so-called elite of the country, the brightest of the brightest, the ‘walking brain-drain’, the ones who used to ‘carry the Venezuelan economy on their backs’ also supported Chavismo. Most of the writers of this site included.

        Well, if said folks did that and are still so easily fooled nowadays in their new countries by left-wing politicians, what could we possibly expect from the poor and ignorant masses?

      • “Who created chavismo?”

        The economic elites that destroyed Venezuela by sucking its resources during the 70s and lobbyed for all sorts of government-forced monopolies since then until today.

        And yes, they are the same economic powers that are today part of chavismo and are known as “ENCHUFADOS”, rotten elements that didn’t give a rat’s ass that Venezuela got destroyed by their actions.

  4. Oh, but women in Venezuela are empowered.

    CHAVISTA women.

    Haven’t you seen how the vanguard of the repressive forces sent against protesters are always women? That’s to have an excuse to lock up and torture kids they kidnap under the charge of “gender violence” if they even dare to defend their lives.

    Torture that was endorsed by such despicable scum as gabrielita ramírez, ombudsman during 2014, the same one that’s now part with student killer rodríguez torres in the new and improved MUD 2.0?


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