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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Equal rights for equal action : women's mobilization for suffrage in Venezuela

  • Author(s): Skog, Erica Lynn
  • et al.

Falling between the first and seconds of wave global suffrage movements, the process that led to the extension of suffrage for women in Venezuela is multifaceted. Beginning in 1928 (under an authoritarian regime), popular organizations grew increasingly persistent in their demands for an end to repressive policies. As the movement developed, however, Venezuelan women recognized the necessity of organizing on their own behalf in order to ensure that future democratic administrations would address their concerns. To that end, women formed organizations to present their concerns, as well as participate in the democratization movement. During periods of authoritarian repression, women utilized gender stereotypes to continue making demands and mobilize (whereas many men could not take the risk), developing organizational and leadership skills, as well as internally debating the focus of their efforts. They relied on language of gender difference to seek legal reform that would grant rights to women as mothers and would allow them to complete "traditional" jobs more efficiently. As the movement progressed and the governmental regime became more tolerant, women expanded their demands to include political, as well as legal, rights. The limited success of a campaign to reform the Código Civil invigorated women's organizations to work explicitly for suffrage, maintaining pressure on the administration, as well as on the male leaders of political organizations. Ultimately, despite myriad challenges, including repressive governmental policies, gender stereotypes and prejudice, and debate over organizational goals and direction, women in Venezuela succeeded in working methodically towards improving legal protections and gaining political rights for women

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