Venezuela: Women the 'vanguard of the Bolivarian revolution'

Women are crucial to the Bolivarian process and will play a vital role in Venezuela's national elections next month, legislator and candidate for the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) Tania Diaz told TeleSUR.

For the first time, Venezuela's electoral council has introduced a rule that for elections to the National Assembly, parties must aim for a 50/50 divide between the sexes. At the very least, 40% of candidates must be women.

Opposition parties have just met the limit, but the PSUV has exceeded it with half of its candidates women.

“This was a resolution of the president of the National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, who is a woman and feminist,” Diaz told TeleSUR.

According to the socialist legislature, the initiative to introduce quotas for women also came from women in opposition parties, who struggled to gain representation in parliament.

“So in this respect, the demands of women of the opposition sectors and women of the revolution were joined,” she said.

The new levels of women's participation in politics in Venezuela are impressive when contrasted with average figures in Latin America. Despite several female state leaders, including Cristina Fernandez, Dilma Rousseff and Michelle Bachelet, across the region, women hold about 20% of seats in the legislatures.

However, in Venezuela since the election of Hugo Chavez in 1999, women have taken prominent positions in government and society. The late president took a special interest in promoting women's participation. Chavez said in 2010: “I am a feminist. I fight and will fight without truce, because the Venezuelan woman occupies the space that she has to occupy: in the heart, in the soul of the new homeland of the socialist revolution.”

Many of the country's top posts, including foreign minister, president of the supreme court of justice and president of the electoral body, are held by women.

Diaz told TeleSUR that Venezuelan society is “centred” around women, with most university students and grassroots spokespeople being women. “So, we are at the vanguard of the collective construction that is Bolivarian socialism in the 21st century,” she said.

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]

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