Women in the Venezuelan revolution: `We’re not invisible but invincible'
[By ABN (Venezuelan news agency), translated by Tamara Pearson]
Caracas, March 8, 2010 (ABN/Venezuelanalysis.com) – “I’m a woman with a new life since the Bolivarian Revolution knocked on my door”, said Pielrroc Montenegro, Maracaiban[i] by birth and Andean by tradition, with eyes full of nostalgia and gratitude. She described herself as a “dignified mother of the neighborhood” since the mission of that name[ii] enabled her to realize one of her dreams: enroll in university.
Years ago, Pielrroc didn’t think much of it when, barely aware of its existence, she signed up with Mission Ribas [high school-level education program]. When she was young she had been forced to leave high school just one year before finishing it.
“My mum got sick and because of economic difficulties I had to work”, she recalled, and said that once she graduated from high school through the government program she seriously considered her options of continuing her studies through Mission Sucre [government university education program]. Then I struggled for my second dream: to study special education, an area I’ve always wanted to work in.”
She had to delay those studies when she finished the second semester of the course and started to notice that her studies took up a lot of her time and reduced the number of hours that she could dedicate to her work as a domestic servant, her only source of income.
Her daughter, then aged 12, needed her more as a working mother than as a studying mother, which ended her studies. “I felt committed to my daughter and obligated to meet her needs,” Pilerroc said.
Around that time, [mission] Mothers of the Neighborhood arrived in the heavy populated suburb of Aragua, La Esperanza, where Pielrroc was living, and made her an unrefusable offer: “They told me not to quit my studies, that I had the profile to be a beneficiary of the mission.”
That’s how she did it, without doubt with the faith she had in the Bolivarian government and its public policies. “I paid attention to them, I believed them, and they came through and within days they called me to inform me that I’d start to receive 80% of the minimum wage, monthly, I was really happy.”
She benefited from the economic incentive for eight months, a period that allowed her to continue her studies and prepare herself for dignified employment in the Ministry of Woman and Gender Equality. She graduated from the Mission Sucre last June and still acts as a social promoter for the ministry, where she provides integral assistance to women who are receiving a range of different types of attention.
Among other things, she gives talks on self-esteem and personal improvement as well as social-political workshops, but she insists that her main task is to open the eyes of the women who, in one way or another, supported the exclusion to which they were victims.
“Human beings are filled with dreams”, said Pielrroc, who not only yearned to complete her high school studies and have a profession, but also to have dignified housing for herself and her child. Thanks to a government program, she left the poor neighborhood where she was living to move to a safer area, where today she has her own home.
“I stopped living in extreme poverty and constant risk and I’m still not used to seeing a proper roof instead of zinc”, she said.
Another one of her big aspirations was that her child realized her hope of becoming a doctor, an idea that was underestimated by many people around her. “One woman would always tell me that that a career was for well-off people and that our condition wouldn’t allow it, but I always told her I had faith, that I would work hard so that my child could achieve her aim”, she said.
Today, the young daughter, aged 17, studies integral community medicine in the Bolivarian campus El Macaro, in the state of Aragua, and in her free time she plays the guitar with her mother, something they managed to get with effort and sacrifice, in order to realize another one of her dreams.
“Since she was a child she wanted to be a pianist, but that was something else for the rich, as my mum would tell me. Today at least I have the guitar, which liberated me and with which I turn my poems to music.”
On [March 8, International Women's Day], women from all over the world celebrate, recalling the recognition achieved through history. In Venezuela many of them do it, taking over public spaces, as part of a struggle that they maintain at the vanguard of all the processes.
Pielrroc is an example of this reality, as she rose up economically, professionally and emotionally, and is a social and feminist activist.
“We [women] are the majority in the missions, in the communal councils, in the committees”, she said, and attributed this to the implementation of policies that prioritize human beings and encourage the people, without disadvantaging women, to empower themselves ... and exercise participative and protagonistic democracy.
For the bicentenary year[iii], Pielrroc talks of a new process of liberation, similarly led by women. “It’s a good time for a second independence, a more colorful one, one that provides the space for women’s participation in equal conditions to men. We have to leave our mark and show that now we’re not invisible but invincible”, she said.
She appealed to all those who underestimate the humanist principles of the Bolivarian Revolution, and with guitar in hand, Pielrroc played the music that accompanies one of her poems turned songs: “The people are waking up, walking to the revolution, all that remains is to keep on struggling.”
[i] From the western state of Maracaibo in Venezuela.
[ii] Mission Mothers of the Neighborhood (barrio) is a mission which aims to support those women living in conditions of extreme poverty, involving them in productive projects, recognizing their domestic labor as work and providing financial support as well as health care and education through related missions.
[iii] 200 years since Venezuelan independence.