“My life has been profoundly marked by the presence, by the incitement, by the impulse, by the magical strength of women, as superior human beings.” -Hugo Chavez, 2010.
When we talk about Mother’s Day, the first thing that comes to mind is an image of a loving woman, dedicated to the her home and family. But since the Revolution came to Venezuela, that vision has taken on another hue, women’s rights have been reclaimed within society, through an unprecedented judicial framework intent on defending gender equality.
In all of Venezuelan history, Hugo Chavez was the first president to declare himself a feminist. Gender equality was always among the commander’s concerns, and he was determined to highlight women’s role in society, primarily through measures expressed in the  Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
“I am a feminist. I fight and will fight without rest, so the Venezuelan woman may occupy the space that must be occupied, in the heart, in the soul of the new homeland and the socialist revolution,” were the words of Chavez on September 16th, 2010, during the swearing-in ceremony of the “Guardians of Chavez,” in the Teresa Carreño Theater.
Accomplishments in Revolution
Chavez always emphasized the use of non-sexist language in his speeches, encouraged the incorporation of women in the National Armed Forces, and promoted women to the highest military ranks.
It’s worth noting that Carmen Melendez was inscribed in Venezuelan military history on July 3rd, 2012, when Chavez designated her the first female admiral.
As part of the politics of inclusion and women’s rights, on October 25th, 1999, Hugo Chavez created the National Women’s Institute (InaMujer), which for almost 15 years has been in charge of guaranteeing equal opportunity and promoting protagonist participation among women of all backgrounds.
He also advocated for the following legal tools: the Organic Law for Women’s Right to a Violence-Free Life, the Law for the Protection of Family, Maternity & Paternity, and the Equal Opportunities for Women Law.
Along those same lines, the commander created the Women’s Bank, the People’s Power Ministry for Women and Gender Equality, and in 2009, the mission “Madres del Barrio.”
The latter meant that 100,000 mothers [of low-income neighborhoods] who worked at home received the economic benefit of a percentage of the minimum wage salary, not as a donation, but as a retribution to their work as mothers.
Conquests of the Bolivarian Constitution
- The use of non-sexist [inclusive] language in order to legitimize gender equality.
- The recognition of the constitutional rank and hierarchal prevalence of treaties, pacts, and conventions relating to human rights, ratified by Venezuela, as promoted by the International Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and in accordance with the Belem do Para Convention (art. 23).
- Guarantee of sexual and reproductive rights (art. 76), including the right for women to decide freely and responsibly the number of children she wishes to conceive, and to make information available through media and otherwise, methods [of birth control] that protect this right. [Also the right to give birth freely, and the protection of traditional practices.]
- The consideration of housework as an economic activity with productive value that contributes to social welfare, meaning that stay-at-home mothers may also receive social security benefits for their work. (art. 88)
The Coconut-Sweet Seller’s Stories [collected memories of Hugo Chavez, a 2012 book]
In the book Cuentos del Arañero (2012), Chavez [was recorded as having said]: “Our history is machista because women rarely appear, but they too rode horseback, like Manuela Saenz. The oligarchs that illustrated history, and hated her, made her out to be the lover of Simon Bolivar. She was not merely Bolivar’s lover, she was the first “Lady of Sun,” Captain of the armies of San Martin and Colonel in the Battle of Ayacucho.”
These recollections reveal the political and historical dimensions within which Commander Chavez considered the female liberation movement.
Hugo Chavez on Mother’s Day, 2010:
“As I write these lines, this Sunday, May 9th, we are celebrating Mother’s Day. Those of us who carry in our souls the feeling of gratitude, we sing and rejoice in the festive pleasure it is to be creatures born of a fertile womb.
The word ‘mother’ resounds in everything that is born; in everything that is thrown into life and fights the everyday battle for collective happiness.”
By Venezuelan public radio station YVKE Mundial. Translated for Venezuelanalysis by Z.C. Dutka.