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.
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.
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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?
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:


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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