Why aren’t more people freaking out about the new Venezuelan labor law?
You know, the one that gives housewives/full-time mothers a pension— wages for housework?
It’s ONLY A HUGE VICTORY FOR FEMINISM, SOCIALISM, AND WOMEN OF COLOR. Not a big deal or anything. Tumblr is mysteriously silent about this.
As a feminist, but most importantly, as a VENEZUELAN WOMAN, I feel obligated to explain how completely wrong you are to promote this law as a victory for women.
First of all, here are some facts that I believe are necessary to get and idea of life in Venezuela, even if they appear unrelated at first sight.
- Caracas, the capital, is the second most dangerous city in the world. More than 24,000 people were murdered last year, one person every 21 minutes. Kidnappings and robberies abound.
- Inflation in 2013 was 56% - this can be translated as: your money is worth nothing.
- 70% of the products that conform a healthy diet are not found in supermarkets. This includes milk, flour, eggs, vegetable oil, sugar, and butter.
- Caracas is one of the most expensive cities in South America.
- In 30 days hospitals will run out of such basic items as gauze and rubber gloves, as wells as 150 essential meds. Most cancer patients haven’t received radiation treatment in weeks due to a lack of radio iodine. I personally suffer from depression and can only find generic antidepressants (no long release).
1 – Instead of encouraging women to better themselves and aim higher, it looks to disguise growing unemployment and encourage conformity. The law is meant to distract from the real problems in the country rather than fight actual inequality.
After the implementation of this law, many women began leaving their jobs in order to solicit the pension. Most of these women preferred to live off a pension that barely covers her and her family’s needs rather than aim for a better life through work.*
So instead of creating jobs where women can help Venezuela actually grow its economy and achieve true distribution of wealth and quality of life, the government prefers to hand out some money and keep the lower class in the slums and voting for their party.
*How do I know this? I lived it firsthand. A woman who worked for my family quit as soon as she was granted the pension. Even though her children were grown up, she preferred to get by on much, much less a month than what she currently earned rather than work and have a better life. (And she’s not alone. Venezuelans in general are used to this easy, conformist way of life; hard work is not in our vocabulary. We have never had to fight the weather to survive, never had to ration during a war, never lost a family member to our country’s cause. Beer is cheaper than water and gasoline is less than 50 cents (not 50c a gallon, 50c the whole thing). We are unused to hardships other than crime.
A government who truly had women’s interests in mind would look to create more opportunities for them, create jobs for them, promote birth control and improve pre-natal and maternal healthcare instead of providing them with a measly $1 an hour pension.
Almost every single man earns more than a woman who holds the same job.If they are actually concerned with equality, why haven’t they implemented an equal wage law?
2 - The actual change in quality of life brought by the law is minimal.
The pension these women can receive is approximately 3.270 Bs.F., the minimum monthly wage.
This translates to less than $3 an hour, about $330 a month.
That is if we use the exchange rate of course. If we use the black market exchange rate, which is the one that prices actually reflect, we have these women earning less than $1 an hour, about $54 a month.
$1 an hour. Yes, that’s right. I think you can come to your own conclusions on how helpful this will be to single mothers and housewives.
3 - Equality is about inclusion of all members of society. This pension, however, is not granted to everyone.
A woman who is not part of the ruling political party will not receive this pension. The only people who can apply are those that are in favor with the government. Is this the “true” equality the government is supposedly promoting?
4 – The initial post describes this as a victory for socialism and women of color. This isn’t correct.
First of all, the law has nothing to do with “women of color”. It is not a victory for a group of people if that group is the whole country - there was no labeling or discrimination of them as “women of color” in the first place. Venezuelans are one of the most ethnically and racially mixed people of the world and racial discrimination is almost nil, or was before Chavez tried to equate white people with wealth and other races with poverty (which, if I gave you access to my Facebook, you would see is a blatant lie).
As a person who experiences Venezuela’s “socialism” every single day, I can assure you that there is really nothing of the sort. Socialism looks to achieve equality for all, not to just give the poor some cash and call it “equal redistribution of wealth”. For example, true socialist governments don’t let their officials pocket enough millions to buy themselves Chateaus in the Swiss Alps and million dollar mansions on the same street their “bourgeois arch-enemies” live. And yes, those are true examples, even though you will obviously not find the proof anywhere.* (see bottom for details)
So no, socialism has nothing to do with this.
5 - The current situation overshadows any importance the law has.
What good is such a law if…
…the same women it means to help have to stand in line for 5 hours to buy 4 bottles of milk, 6 rolls of toilet paper and a bottle of vegetable oil, the maximum imposed?
… if those women can lose their child to the everyday violence that sees a person murdered every 21 minutes?
…If a mother has to make a weekly 8 hour trip to Colombia to buy her child’s cancer medication?
….if hospitals are 30 days away from running out of such basic essentials as gauze and rubber gloves? How will maternity wards fare when this happens?
…If a mother can’t find insulin for her diabetic child?
…if it encourages women to stay at home and be mothers instead of providing them with opportunities to rise in life, to follow their dreams and aim for a better life?
Last year I spent 4 months without a tasting a drop of milk due to scarcity. My mom and I have had to cut paper towels for use as toilet paper and napkins in lieu of the products themselves. I personally know more than 10 people who have been kidnapped and held for ransom. I am from a well-to-do family who lives in one of the best areas of the city; How do you think people who live in the slums fare if even the so-called “elite” cannot find basic products or keep safe?
Gender equality is extremely important to me. However, this law is all talk and no substance. And even though ideas are necessary as well, true change through actions is what will help us achieve gender equality.
On a side note, I beg you to investigate a bit on the present situation in Venezuela and support us in our fight for true freedom. Please help us #PrayForVenezuela.