For Gender and Women's Studies, we each have to do a current events project at some point during the class. I had to do mine just about a week ago, and I did it on the new labor law in Venezuela. I actually think the law itself and their constitution are pretty cool- I've heard that there are some major problems including a shortage of toilet paper, which you should check a different article for if you want to know. I'm just looking at stuff that seems relevant to the labor law and gender/women's studies. I included the discussion questions that I had to come up with for the project too, and I won't argue if you want to talk about those too :)
Venezuela has passed and implemented a new labor law- penalties for noncompliance started on June 15, and there are many interesting and important things in it. Their constitution already contained the statement that all are equal to the law, explicitly and specifically forbidding discrimination based on race, sex, creed, or social standing along with a general statement against “any discrimination with the intent or effect of nullifying or encroaching upon the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on equal terms, of the rights and liberties of every individual,” (Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Chapter 1 Article 21 and “” Clause 1.) The constitution also guarantees the right to chose how many children they wish to have and the information and means needed to exercise this along with stating that mothers and fathers have equal responsibilities to their childen. (Venezuela Const. Ch. 5 ar. 76.) Given the explicit statements against gender discrimination in the Venezuelan constitution, their newest labor law which grants recognition to “non-salaried work traditionally done by women” (Ponniah) seems like one more (extremely important) step along their old trajectory. This is a step that people have campaigned for for years, with an international Wages for Housework campaign organized in 1972 and an international coalition of women of color campaigning for the same formed in 1975, remembering to challenge racism in their feminism (Lee and Shaw 397.)
Articles speaking about this state that full time mothers will now be able to receive a pension, though the constitutional statements of men and women having equal responsibilities to their children combined with the other anti-sexist statements found in their laws leaves me to wonder if it is the law specifying mothers or if it is other writers assuming that only a mother would take this pension.
The new labor law also requires 6 weeks paid leave for mothers prior to giving birth, extended without penalty if she is late to deliver and with the remainder added to the 20 post-birth weeks if she is early (VenezuelanAnalysis.com,) and it appears that if a contracted worker is subjected to sexual harassment by the employer and chooses to leave due to such, the employer may be required by this new labor law to pay the worker through the end of the contract anyways.
Discussion Questions: How do you think that full-time parenting should be defined? (Due to not reading Spanish and only finding a Spanish copy of the law itself, I don't actually know how Venezuela defined it!) What effects could this pension being just for mothers vs. for whichever parent is staying home have? How could this affect those who already do domestic work outside the home for pay, and how does this change based on the definition of full-time parenting/being a full-time mother?
Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. (English translation retrieved from http://www.analitica.com/bitblioteca/venezuela/constitucion_ingles.pdf)
Ponniah, Thomas. "Venezuela's New Labour Law: The Best Mother's Day Gift." News for the Rest of Us. N.p., 15 May 2013. Web. 08 July 2013.Shaw, Susan M., and Janet Lee. "Women's Work Inside and Outside the Home" Women's Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings. 5th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher
Education, 2011. 391-413. Print.VenezuelAnalysis.com. "Chapter by Chapter Summary of Venezuela's New Labour Law." Venezuela News, Views, and Analysis. Venezuelanalysis.com, 9 May 2012. Web. 08 July 2013.