[Marxism] FW: Venezuela gives poorest housewives 80 percent of minimum wage (Selma James)

Richard Fidler rfidler at cyberus.ca
Wed Mar 8 06:37:55 MST 2006

Greetings on International Women's Day, the day when marching 
women and their families in Petrograd launched the 1917 Russian 
revolutions! Here's an interesting column by Selma James to mark 
the occasion. Her organization, Global Women's Strike, 
participated in our Haiti solidarity actions at the World Social 
Forum in Caracas. Their delegation included James, who is, 
incidentally, the widow of the late C.L.R. James, author of Black 
Jacobins, the story of Haiti's independence struggle.

Apologies for any cross-posting. -- RF

Wages for housework

Venezuela gives poorest housewives the equivalent of 80 percent of 
minimum wage.

Dateline: Monday, March 06, 2006

by Selma James, for Global Women's Strike

Every International Women's Day since 2000, women in over 60 
countries have taken all kinds of grassroots actions to demand 
that society Invest in Caring Not Killing, and that the money 
squandered on war is spent instead on what our communities need, 
beginning with the needs of women - the caregivers on whom 
everyone else depends.

We invite you again to take action together in the 7th Global 
Women's Strike on or around 8 March.

In January and February, coordinating groups of the Strike in 
England, Guyana, India, Ireland, Peru, Spain, Uganda and the USA 
attended the World Social Forum in Caracas - an opportunity to 
meet grassroots organisers from around the world and to meet as a 
network in the heart of a revolution spearheaded by women - the 
Venezuelan revolution. We held workshops in English and Spanish, 
which gave visibility to different countries of the Strike but 
also different sectors of the grassroots: women and men of 
different races, different sexual choices and different 
disabilities - each found her/his counterpart in the Venezuelan 
movement. We have been strengthened and encouraged by the 
tremendous energy and determination of grassroots women who have 
protected a government that invests in caring, starting with the 
poorest communities, and which in turn backs women.

The world is beginning to recognise and value women's hidden 
contribution to society but Venezuela goes further. On February 3 
President Hugo Chávez announced that, in recognition for their 
work in the home, the poorest housewives would receive a monthly 
income equivalent to 80 percent of the minimum wage - 372,000 bls 
or about $180. He also announced a 15 percent increase in the 
minimum wage (which, with the ticket employees get for meals and 
other essentials, would bring the value of the increase to 835,350 
bls or about $400 a month), along with increases in pensions and 
other low wages. The first hundred thousand housewives will 
benefit from June, and another 100,000 from July. Chávez said that 
he aims for up to 500,000 women eventually to get this money.

This is not the implementation of the revolutionary Article 88 of 
the constitution, which recognises the economic and social 
contribution of women's unwaged work in the home and on that basis 
grants housewives a pension. Article 88 still needs legislation to 
put it into practice.

Rather than wait for this, Chávez has put together the recognition 
Article 88 gives to housewives' work, with the recent legislation 
aimed at lifting the poorest out of poverty, and redirected some 
of the oil revenue to women. Chávez has repeatedly said, women are 
the poorest, work hardest and are most committed to the 

This is finally a wage for housework, something we have demanded 
since 1972! It is bound to raise women's wages in Venezuela. We 
heard about it first from people phoning to congratulate us on 
this victory, which they assumed was directly associated with our 

Full story at: 

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