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Changes made in 1999 to Venezuela's constitution resulted in the recognition of women's unwaged housework as economically productive, and as a result, Venezuelan housewives became entitled to social security benefits.
These unprecedented changes, according to Selma James of the Global Women's Strike, have led to the empowerment of women, who are now becoming key participants in the grassroots developments associated with the Bolivarian Revolution and the government of Hugo Chavez.
This progress has been taken a step further with the development of a National Housewives' Union, which, independent journalist Benjamin Bangl explains, "provides legal support to their members and informs them of the free educational, medical and subsidized food programs the government provides."
Adopted in 1999 after a long consultative process, Venezuela's "Bolivarian Constitution" institutionalizes a broad range of progressive measures. Under the constitution, "The state recognizes work at home as an economic activity that creates added value and produces social welfare and wealth," and guarantees housewives' social security.
The union is also involved in efforts to push the government to provide pensions to all housewives over fifty. Educational efforts on the part of the union have sought to teach women how to establish small businesses and community work cooperatives and to provide them with diplomas indicating their expertise in certain areas of domestic work.
Lizarde Prada, General Coordinator for the Housewives' Union in the State of Merida, explained the goals behind the Union's establishment: "Our union helps to empower the housewives. Many of them were stuck in their homes, they didn't have time to read or write, they were always cooking and cleaning, they weren't informed. Many of our women are opening their eyes now."
» Upside Down World: The Housewives' Union in Venezuela
» Venezuelanalysis.com: Venezuela's Antidote for Apathy
» Venezuelanalysis.com: Women and Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution
» Green Left Weekly: Bolivarian Revolution: A People's Win
» Venezuelan US Embassy: Bolivarian Constitution, Title III: Duties, Human Rights and Guarantees
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.