On October 2-4th 2015, feminist movements and collectives from across Venezuela came together for the third National School of People’s Feminism. In the summary that follows, the People’s Feminist School details the workshops that were discussed, as well as their strategy for advancing feminist practices within the Bolivarian revolution, particularly in terms of the creation of the “anti-patriarchal” commune.
We carried out the third National School of People’s Feminism: “Revolutionary Identities and Sexualities” in the Simon Bolivar Technical School of Agriculture and Live Stock (ETA) in La Azulita, Merida, from October 2-4.
With the support of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, we called on the different collectives which together make up our network (The People’s Feminist School): Women for Life (Lara), the Cimarron Collective (Zulia), the Diverse Gender-Sex Alliance (Caracas and Tachira), the Collective Subject (Merida), the Cayapa Collective (Merida), the New Indigenous Woman Chief Collective (Portuguesa), the Ali Primera Squatting Pioneers (Barinas), the Network for Information on Safe Abortion (National) and the National Association of Independent and Alternative Community Media (ANMCLA). We also received logistical support from the National Institute of Nutrition, the Polytechnic Territorial University of Merida and Merida Funds.
Women communards from more than twenty-five communes spanning sixteen different states took part in the school, as well as thirty different organisations, collectives and movements in Venezuela and two from Our America. The three days of work began with a forum, in which our comrade-sister Sandra Izaza, a militant in the Feminist and Antimilitarist Network (Colombia), spoke about the experience of feminist women in the heart of political organisations who are generating processes of change in patriarchal logic, demanding changes from our male comrades in the organization, as well as about her network’s struggle within the context of resistance in Colombia and its role in the peace process. We also had a necessary conversation surrounding the current conjuncture in Chavismo and our positions and challenges in the face of this new stage in the Bolivarian revolution, which is currently in the middle of an international and national siege, attacked by imperialism and the national rightwing, as well as those who who are disguised as Chavistas and who we understand very well to be enemies.
Workshops and Women’s Jamborees
Claudia Korol, a militant with the collective “Shawls in Rebellion” (Argentina) told us about the participation of women in the Latin American revolutionary struggle, and the necessity of socialising our common and unifying history. This helped us to understand the complexity, strength, historical errors and risks involved in our own revolutionary processes, as well as helped us to develop our own capacity for revolutionary offensive and resistance. We also carried out a characterisation of the wonderful diversity of those who are carrying out this process and debated the urgent necessity for unity amongst our popular and communal bloc as the only way of deepening and defending our revolution. Here feminist and LGBTQ women have a fundamental role: the current conjuncture and our very own history demonstrate that, for us, strategic objectives are more important than disagreements between organisations or superficial differences.
We carried out twelve workshops on different issues from which we developed proposals from the perspective of people’s feminism as a contribution to the integral and egalitarian processes of female and male Chavistas, inclusive of our wide ranging sexual identity and gender.
What is patriarchy? How can the people combat it from within people’s feminism?
Emancipatory love vs. romantic love: Prince Charming doesn’t exist, the violent sexist does
Popular power against sexist violence: “In the commune, nobody will by complicit with the aggressor”
Communal feminist economy: “We produce as a community and the commune dignifies women”
Revolutionary sexuality: “Because pleasure is also a right”
A feminist focus in people’s communication: “Alternative media free of sexism”
Communal planning from a feminist perspective: “In favour of community development plans which include our dreams”
Committees for women and gender equality: “By organising, we liberate ourselves”
Truth and lies on abortion, are we all silent?
New ways of bring up children: “Boys do cry, and girls do climb trees”
Revolutionary identities and sexualities
New masculinities: Chavista doesn’t mean machista.
During our debate and sorority we were able to organise ourselves collectively so that the children of the women present were given an area and we socialised their care so that the women could participate freely in whatever space they desired. The men also worked in the kitchen with the loving women of the ETA and together we created the Festival of Flavours and Knowledges for mutual exchange (trueke) and the sale of products created by participants. In the night time, we read poetry and made music, dancing to the sound of our sister-artist Mina Libertad, the trans woman of the political fiesta. We hugged one another and we laughed together, because we are certain that the best way of struggling departs from happiness.
In the closing plenary we all defined what the characteristics of a feminist anti-patriarchal commune are; it is a territory free of sexist violence, with equal participation (between men and women) in decision making, with an economy which doesn’t exploit, including the exploitation of women and mother nature, and which looks for ways to socialise the work involved in social care and the care of life (traditionally imposed on women) and consequently, the feminist commune will create communal play-centres, training spaces, restaurants and laundries, amongst others. Likewise, the construction of public communal works and institutions relating to the specific necessities of women will be participatory; for instance, the access to contraceptives and the development of humane (nonviolent) birthing practices.
We agreed that the fundamental tools to advance this struggle, in the short term, in relation to the construction of the feminist commune are: the strengthening and creation of committees for women and gender equality, including the communal defenders of women’s rights, and to work on the generation of productive economic networks that contribute to overcoming the economic war and the transition to a socialist economic model.
In light of a proposal from the Casa Caracola School, as a formative meeting space for protection, we proposed; the expansion of communal CAFIMs – Centres for Comprehensive Assistance and Training for Women, the need to generate political gender parity within the spokespeople elected at the Presidential Commission for the Popular Government of the Communes, as well as the reactivation of the Presidential Commission for Women’s Popular Government, with a protagonist role for women.
We defend these spaces, created by our worker-president Nicolas Maduro, as ways of advancing the creation of the Communal State.
We closed our meeting with hugs, hope and anti-patriarchal struggle, by putting on our alpargatas (traditional Venezuelan shoes woven from material), because what is coming up next is Joropo (traditional Venezuelan folk music for dancing)! We are going to develop together two media and communications campaigns; one against sexist violence and another for the national debate on abortion. We will also work with the Popular Command alongside various other social movements to defend our Chavista National Assembly in the elections on December 6th.
We will continue with our women’s jamboree! We will carry out formative meetings throughout all states, regions and communal territories to keep moving towards the anti patriarchal commune. 2016 will be our Fifth National School for People’s Feminism, more communards than ever!