ONTD Political

Venezuela's new labour law: The best Mother's Day gift

6:28 pm - 05/21/2013
Here is some news that the conservative critics of Venezuela's leftist government will not publicize. The Chavistas announced that a new labour law, part of which will grant recognition to non-salaried work traditionally done by women, will come into effect this week. Full-time mothers will now be able to collect a pension.

While there are a number of criticisms to be made of the Venezuelan government, the genius of the Bolivarian process is that it combines numerous forms of struggle against inequality. The most obvious lies in its commitment to economic redistribution, and measured by the Gini co-efficient, Venezuela has the lowest rate of inequality in Latin America. An equally significant form of struggle against inequality, however, lies in its pursuit of gender equity.

One of the major theoretical criticisms of the economic redistribution model in more general terms, often advanced by post-modern and post-developmental theorists, has been from the vantage point of questions of identity. Theorists like the anthropologist Arturo Escobar have noted that economic growth does not necessarily transform status relations such as those oriented around gender, race, ethnicity, or sexuality; therefore some have contended that attempts at social change should place primacy, or at least equal emphasis, on the politics of difference. The question of difference: how can everyone in society be able to intervene with equal capacity when there is such significant variation in the recognition that we allot to diverse identities in society? Critics of traditional development have argued that the emphasis on economic redistribution, by either advocates of the market or the state, has ignored the crucial role that identity and diversity play in society. Economic re-allocation does not end the identity hierarchies that place women at a lower rung of the status ladder than men throughout Latin America.

The political philosopher Nancy Fraser has contended that advocates of cultural diversity implicitly start with the proposition that our identity is developed in interaction with others. Our self-esteem is constructed in relation to receiving acknowledgement from others and providing recognition to them; if a group is regularly presented with negative images of themselves, their self-esteem suffers. Non-recognition produces psychological injury: one's self-perception becomes distorted. Therefore in order for groups to achieve full recognition from others, civil society actors maintain that there is a need to establish a system in which all actors can be full partners in social life. Feminists, both inside and outside the Bolivarian process, have advocated for social policies that encourage equal participation in all social institutions.

The Venezuelan government has made many progressive gains, with the most prominent example being the explicitly anti-sexist 1999 Constitution. This set of principles was the result of co-operation amongst members of the constitutional assembly's Committee on Family and Women, the National Women's Council and women's civil society organizations. The constitutional assembly's committee consulted women from every type of political campaign: legal rights, international agencies, academics, labour unions and small business leaders. The Constitution guaranteed women's right to work, to health services, to social security and pensions. Most innovatively it recognized the monetary value of housework by, in principle, supporting housewives' right to pensions. This week that principle has become a reality. Progressives around the world looking for ways to advance gender rights still have much to learn from Venezuela's continuing social revolution.

Thomas Ponniah is an Affiliate of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin America Studies and an Associate of the Department of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University.


OP: Wow. What does everyone think about this? I'll just comment with my thoughts, since I have a lot of them.
crooked_halo 22nd-May-2013 02:32 am (UTC)
So, my first thought on this was to wonder whether or not these benefits would be extended to fathers who choose to stay home.

I have to admit that I don't know a whole lot about Venezuela's government so any thoughts I might have on this are framed by my perspectives as a US citizen.

I feel like this could be a very positive thing, but it might also come with societal/cultural pressure on women to stay home with their kids when that might not be the right choice for every woman.

On the other hand, I really wish that the US would do something like this because I think that staying home as a parent (whether as a mom or a dad) is one of the best things you can do for your kids.
the_physicist 22nd-May-2013 09:41 am (UTC)
I feel like this could be a very positive thing, but it might also come with societal/cultural pressure on women to stay home with their kids when that might not be the right choice for every woman.

They're being offered a pension. Free child care that would allow them to have a job and bring in money and collect a pension from having that job is also available already to many. So. I don't think that's the idea here. The idea is as the article states, in a sense, more one of acknowledging stay at home mothers.

This government is currently trying to hang onto power after a disputed election so they are trying to do things that will put them in a good light with people. Though I think they were planning this before already, this is something they are doing for women, not for men to be able to then stuff their women inside and not let them out of the house.

On the other hand, I really wish that the US would do something like this because I think that staying home as a parent (whether as a mom or a dad) is one of the best things you can do for your kids.

Depends on your parents though, if it's the best or not. For some kids being away from their parents can be the best thing for them. I hate lines like this, because i also feel they add to the pressure to be a stay at home mum, even though you mention it could apply to fathers. Because guys generally don't read this and feel pressured that they'll be a bad parent if they go to work, but many women do, including myself, even though I ID as intersex.
crooked_halo 22nd-May-2013 11:21 pm (UTC)
That is actually a lot better than I was thinking. I got the impression from the article (and I was very tired/stressed when reading it) that the pension was only if the women stay home. But as you are describing it, that's actually really awesome.

And you're very right about the last line. Again, I was tired and stressed and I think projecting because I have a lot of guilt myself about the fact that my husband and I both work and are both so exhausted due to the fact that we're on opposite work schedules since daycare isn't an option for us financially, so anyway due to this exhaustion I feel that I'm not the parent that I feel I *should* be.

Tl;dr, essentially that was a poorly worded last sentence that had a lot more to do with my own parenting guilt than anything else. Ordinarily, I'm not a fan of statements like this myself because each child is different in what's best for them.
the_physicist 23rd-May-2013 05:08 am (UTC)
That is actually a lot better than I was thinking. I got the impression from the article (and I was very tired/stressed when reading it) that the pension was only if the women stay home. But as you are describing it, that's actually really awesome.

communism was always very very big on equal rights for women.

And you're very right about the last line. Again, I was tired and stressed and I think projecting because I have a lot of guilt myself about the fact that my husband and I both work and are both so exhausted due to the fact that we're on opposite work schedules since daycare isn't an option for us financially, so anyway due to this exhaustion I feel that I'm not the parent that I feel I *should* be.

yeah, don't sweat it, i can definitely understand that guilt. society is very good at that kind of stuff. >_> the lack of affordable or free childcare drives me up the wall. the amount of money they want here... it's ridiculous and just very screwed up. i do think it's great that you can have opposite work schedules though at least. my aunt and uncle tried that as it was the best thing for them to do too.
bestdaywelived 22nd-May-2013 04:15 pm (UTC)
Eh, slow your roll on that last sentence. My mother was convinced that staying home with her and family only was the best thing, but she's a mentally ill conservative Christian, and my life was absolute hell as a kid and her prisoner.

It's also used to guilt women into not working.
ladygoddess 22nd-May-2013 10:27 pm (UTC)
I'm listening to "Lean In" and in chapter 6 (?) she relates studies which show that children are no better off (mentally, behaviorally, cognitively, or emotionally) if they are taken care of by people other than the mother. Though a balanced (i.e. sharing duties), positive relationship between parents does increase a child's satisfaction and happiness. Of course, this would all be in the context that the child is not in the hands of anyone that is harming them in any way.

This book is giving my spouse and me a lot to think about when we have kids.

Edited at 2013-05-22 10:27 pm (UTC)
crooked_halo 22nd-May-2013 11:28 pm (UTC)
Interesting. I have to check that book out.

And despite my poor wording up there, I can actually agree with that. As long as the child is in the care of someone who takes good care of them, the biological relationship isn't important. Not only that, but there are certainly cases where the biological parents are the ones who are causing their child physical or emotional harm.

I think that my concern about daycares is that there are a lot of daycares out there that aren't ideal places for children. There are a lot of great ones too, but I live in an area where just about every week there is a news story about a child being left in a daycare van for 8 hours straight and either dying or suffering grave physical injury due to it. So I think that's skewed my view quiet a bit on how healthy it is to send young children to daycare.

I also feel like families need to at least have the choice instead of being stuck in the endless hamster wheel of struggling to make ends meet.
ladygoddess 22nd-May-2013 11:49 pm (UTC)
Absolutely! I used to work in a daycare for preschoolers. Those kids had some of the best care, but they were not being intellectually challenged in the least. I never went to daycare, but spent my days running about outside with my younger brother poking at dead moles in the yard (haha).

However, for my kids, I want them to go out on outings to parks, rivers, mountains, etc. and learn about science. My spouse's parents did that for him and it sounds like an amazing childhood!

"Lean In" has been making me think about what will happen to my spouse's career if he takes 5-7 years off to raise our kids to kindergarten age. He's not ambitious in the least, but while I'm hungry to rocket up the career ladder, I'm not sure I could afford to take care of everything by myself. His parents intend to move near us when we have kids, so maybe they'll be the ones taking our kids on awesome adventures instead of us?

crooked_halo 23rd-May-2013 12:08 am (UTC)
I know what you mean about the outings. I really hate the current arrangement that my family has because it's always only one of us with 2 kids since we work opposite shifts and we only have one car. So while we try to get the kids out during the few hours a week that we're all home together, it's definitely not the experiences and parenting that I'd hoped to provide for our kids.

However, I will say that if their grandparents are the ones taking them on adventures, that's a special thing too.

I hope that you two are able to work out a situation that works best for your future kids though.

I will say that daycares are a great opportunity for kids to socialize and I regret that my kids aren't getting that as much, though they do have each other. (My daughter has autism and is nonverbal and my son is delayed/nonverbal, so I regret that they're not getting more conversation with kids their age)

But ultimately, I think that each family is different in what situation works for them.
ladygoddess 23rd-May-2013 12:40 am (UTC)
I agree. Each situation is so very different. I'm pretty sure that if I had seen *any* other people aside from my immediate family, I'd be helluva lot less socially awkward and shy than I am now.
the_physicist 23rd-May-2013 05:15 am (UTC)
worried here too. i'm not willing to give up my career, it's what keeps me alive. my partner will realistically be the person staying at home more. but yeah. i think i am tempted to move to Scandinavia for the free child care.
the_physicist 23rd-May-2013 05:11 am (UTC)
the person trying to guilt me into giving up my career and have kids and be a stay at home parent is my mum. it's very hard to even come at her with such arguments, because she made the choice to be a stay at home mum because she felt it was the best thing to do. and that's why it's so hard to do something 'different'. because people who feel they made a necessary sacrifice are not going to take well to you basically slapping them in the face and telling them that they were wrong.

these books are good though to remind yourself when you're faced with a guilt trip that you're doing okay. nothing can be done to stop the guilt tripper though i think -_-.
bestdaywelived 23rd-May-2013 04:36 pm (UTC)
My mother is the same way. She turns it into "well I was obviously a terrible mother if you don't want to give up your future to sit home with children like I did". Except, she was a terrible mother.
the_physicist 23rd-May-2013 05:01 pm (UTC)
I don't know what kind of parent i'd make, but I know in some areas I would do better than her. Others maybe worse. I can't help thinking, looking back, that would have gained more from an independent happy mother who had a life outside going shipping at the supermarket more than from her staying home. Now, realistically it made little to no economic sense if she worked possibly, but she was always very clear it was not an economic decision at all. She felt she had to stay home to offer us the best start in life.

Like, I think she was wrong. Because kids pick up on a mother who doesn't do this out of really wanting to, but only out of a misguided sense of obligation (and fixing their own childhood - my gran was the primary family breadwinner). If she'd truly been happy as a full time mother and housewife things would have been different possibly.
khoyin 24th-May-2013 10:27 pm (UTC)
Mine beat me. You gotta know terrible to join the club. She did lots worse than that as well. So you are free to vent/sob/bitch about her or me at hoyin_6@yahoo.com any time. When or IF I have a chance to get online is when I'll read and reply. All is confidential.
crooked_halo 22nd-May-2013 11:23 pm (UTC)
You're absolutely right and in hindsight, that was a very poorly worded last sentence and was more about what I feel is best for my children (to have either myself or my husband stay home, so not me specifically) because our current situation just isn't ideal and it's frustrating that there are no viable alternatives at the moment.
zinnia_rose 22nd-May-2013 02:42 am (UTC)
I think it's great, especially for single parents who would otherwise have to add childcare to the list of things one income needs to cover. It's also great for two-parent families and eliminates needing to choose between living on one income and living on two incomes but adding childcare costs and inconveniences to the mix.

Edited at 2013-05-22 02:42 am (UTC)
crooked_halo 22nd-May-2013 03:59 am (UTC)
I totally agree with this. I think I've been wondering what the catch is here because it just sounds too good to be true. I just can't imagine having the luxury (for lack of a better word) of being able to choose to stay home with my kids.
the_physicist 22nd-May-2013 09:37 am (UTC)
Except this is Venezuela, not the USA. They have a lot of free childcare programmes for 0-6 year old preschoolers so that both parents can work. 45% of children in Venezuela are now in state sponsored day care centres, because that was something Hugo Chavez pushed for.
belleweather 22nd-May-2013 02:58 am (UTC)
I think it's hilarious that this ONTD_P post appeared immediately after a discussion with a friend of mine in Caracas about his woes being unable to get basic staple foods and toilet paper on in the reading order of my friends list.

Oh LJ, your unintentional irony brings me lulz.
crooked_halo 22nd-May-2013 04:00 am (UTC)
Oh wow.

And yes, definite unintentional irony.

Is he unable to get those things because they're too expensive or because they're simply in short supply out of curiosity?
crooked_halo 22nd-May-2013 11:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And also, I wonder if the pun in that article was intentional?

I do feel for them though.
belleweather 22nd-May-2013 09:39 pm (UTC)
They're in short supply in the sense that there aren't any available in stores -- even snotty expat expensive stores -- at any price at all.
crooked_halo 22nd-May-2013 11:36 pm (UTC)
Wow. Thank you for clarifying. That makes me feel pretty spoiled in that I've never lived anywhere that's been short on supplies to buy.
romp 22nd-May-2013 06:43 am (UTC)
Right on. The goal is to reduce inequality, right? And women and children make up most of the poor.

Does this have to get all academic? :(
crooked_halo 22nd-May-2013 11:41 pm (UTC)
Doesn't everything?

Seriously though, as long as it's not used to guilt women into staying home, I think this is a pretty awesome initiative.
mingemonster 22nd-May-2013 07:30 am (UTC)
Oh fuck yes.
browneyedguuurl 22nd-May-2013 11:08 am (UTC)
My Venezuelan friends are still steaming mad that Maduro "won" the election. They tell me that in Venezuela you can't get basic necessities like food or TP due to there being no money to bring in supplies as needed. The govt. sanctioned programs are really hurting the country and according to them, has created a society of dependance on govt. assistance. Also, they tell me that so many of these people don't even work and just expect to get free handouts. To me it's a slippery slope tbh.
stellaglam 22nd-May-2013 08:28 pm (UTC)
He didn't "win" the election, according to independent monitoring groups he did WIN the election. I think maybe you should do your own research. Here are a couple of links to help you get started:


browneyedguuurl 22nd-May-2013 08:56 pm (UTC)
If he won the election or not we'll never know. There were many ballot boxes that were burnt and thrown away by govt. officials. There are thousands of accounts, videos and pictures of military personal transporting boxes and burning them. Also, absentee ballots were not counted and those would give Capriles an advantage. The fact of the matter is that the election was shady. They had reports of people being beaten up at election centers, intimidation, ballots being destroyed, violence against the opposition, among other things. This plus the fact that Maduro alleges that he received more votes than Chavez ever did is ridiculous. Plus the fact that the margin was so small and they flat out refused to do a recount is very suspect. Anyone who things Venezuela held fair elections is seriously deluded. Did you not see what happened at the assembly where they were calling for a recount?!? Representatives of the opposition got beat up for God's sake, even female representatives.
stellaglam 22nd-May-2013 09:08 pm (UTC)
You're going to have to give me sources for this. I know there were a lot of rumors coming out of the opposition, but the whole ballot burning thing turned out to be fake (the pictures stemmed from 2010...) etc. All non-biased monitoring groups have called it an open and fair election, so if you're going to dispute those reports, you're going to have to actually back up your statements with sources.
thevelvetsun 23rd-May-2013 01:21 pm (UTC)
stellaglam 24th-May-2013 04:06 pm (UTC)
LOL, mte. This is not the first time I've had this exact conversation, both IRL and online, and this is always how it ends...
khoyin 24th-May-2013 10:22 pm (UTC)
As the director and overseer and principal in charge of a 2000 sq ft house, phone answerer, meal planner, shopper of all needs, and cook, laundress, maid, and book and political blog reviewer I would love to see something like that implemented in the U.S.A. but somehow, right now not even my husband will give me a break on the weekends...told him all the opening nights of the three big screen movies I want to see..and so far the date that was supposed to happen night after opening night of the newest Star Trek HASN'T HAPPENNED YET. Maybe I will hire a maid and a cook for a week, get a bill and tell them I want that amount plus the money for buying *your* food, sheets, towels, hair products, toothpaste, etc. etc. etc. and see if they'd start paying me ....What do you guys think. Think it'll work??
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