Sunday 21 March 2010

Venezuela Celebrates Women’s Day, Discusses Abortion Rights

As a late finale to our International Women’s Day coverage, here’s a story about IWD in Venezuela, plus links to more articles on women’s rights in Venezuela and Latin America.

by Tamara Pearson

Venezuela celebrated International Women’s Day [March 8] with a ceremony involving 200,000 women and some of Venezuela’s highest political female leaders. The women also formed a Bicentenary Front of Women. Meanwhile, a National Assembly committee is discussing women’s right to abortions.

Women swearing themselves into the Bicentennial Front of Women

In Caracas president Hugo Chavez, attorney general Luisa Ortega, president of the National Electoral Council Tibisay Lucena, Minister for Women Maria Leon, Human Rights Ombudsperson Gabriela Ramirez, and Supreme Court President Luisa Ortega participated in a large ceremony and rally to mark International Women’s Day.

“In 11 years of revolution women have been able to advance much more than in 100 years of normal life,” said Leon.

But she said that to continue advancing, more equality in the home, among other things, was needed, and “that men learn to wash and cook ...and women also carry out traditional male duties like mechanics [and] political responsibility.”

Also on the agenda for change is abortion, something currently illegal, very difficult obtain, and generally frowned on in Venezuela.  The President of the National Assembly’s commission for family, women and youth, Marelys Perez, said in a press release that as part of the project for a new Penal Code, they were discussing both guaranteeing the right to abortion and prostitution as something not to be discriminated against.

“Abortion is a very sensitive topic, but we should tackle the issue with integrity and profound respect. We’re working very hard so that our proposal is included in the new penal code,” she said.

“During the Fourth Republic [a period of governance before Chavez] women’s day was marginalised, it was relegated to celebrations at the service of the bourgeois state,” Chavez said, then paid homage to some of Venezuela’s heroines and female icons, such as Josefa Camejo (independence fighter ), Luisa Caceres de Arismendi (imprisoned during the war for independence ), Teresa Carreño (pianist, singer and composer) and Teresa de la Parra (feminist author).

“Only through revolution can women really be free,” said Chavez at the ceremony.

Venezuelan government media estimated that 200,000 women from around the country also attended the ceremony. The women took an oath to form a Bicentennial Front of Women, which will to fight for the Boliviarian revolution and for women.

Venezuela celebrates 200 years of independence on April 19 this year. Students and youth from various missions, organisations, movements, and revolutionary parties made a similar oath to form a Bicentennial Front of Youth in February. This front was aimed at the September National assembly elections as well as a campaign around implementing the new education law.

Chavez encouraged the women to, “keep on fighting, keep on taking on the role of vanguard, to save the world and the country.”

Around the country other cities and towns and schools also celebrated the day with meetings, ceremonies, and cultural events. In the city of Coro there was a march and 233 women were recognised for social work in their communities.

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