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Venezuela: Allies in Technology, Women Who are Not Afraid of Mice

Venezuelan NGO Aliadas en Cadena [es] (Allies in Chains) has created the program Aliadas en Tecnología [es] (Allies in Technology), which sees in technology a window of opportunity for empowering women affected by poverty in Venezuela. Through classes and workshops, many women who saw computers as strange and intimidating objects now find in them a tool for work, learning and self-fulfillment. The program recognizes the training of women as one of the main strategies for overcoming poverty. These “Allies” organize workshops that spread the use of new technologies, together with other self-improvement workshops to help fight violence against women and teach them about the importance of challenging and questioning the identity that tradition in Venezuela has given women.

In their YouTube channel [es], a video in Spanish explains what the project is all about.

"Aliadas" (Allies) used with permission from Aliadas en Tecnología (Allies in Technology)

In the blog ¡No le tenemos miedo a los ratones! (We are not afraid of mice! [the computer mouse]) [es] they discuss and inform about the changes women have experienced in the workplace. In one of their posts [es] they question the common perceptions about the value women bring to the workplace, and they criticize the forms of male dommination that are hidden in very simple acts:

… Desde que somos pequeñas nos enseñan a estar sujetas al control masculino, tanto en lo familiar como en lo social, donde nuestro éxito está basado en el cumplimiento del papel de madre-esposa (…)

Basta con escuchar los chistes sexistas en una oficina sobre cómo la presidenta de la compañía llegó a ese cargo o las críticas sobre el traje que utilizó una senadora para dar unas declaraciones en un canal de noticias, para darnos cuenta de las formas (por no mencionar otras tantas) en las que se descalifica y desprestigia a una mujer que tiene poder.

… Since we are little we are taught to be subject to male control, both in family and social spheres, where our success is based on the performance of the role of mother and wife (…)

You just have to listen to sexist jokes in the office about how the [female] president of the company reached that position or about the suit a [female] senator wore to give declarations at a news channel, to notice the ways (not to mention all the many other forms) in which powerful women are disqualified and discredited.

In Venezuela, the role of women as mothers and housewives has prevailed in culture. The basic education women had a right to at the beginning of the Venezuelan republic framed women as administrators in the home and underestimated their efforts in the workplace. Elementary and secondary education in Venezuela is now a right that is offered equally to men and women. However, the traditions and customs perpetuate a limited vision of the female universe, particularly within disadvantaged groups. But the participation of women in community organizations and activities in different training programs –like in Allies in Technology– show how the strength of women inside and outside the home has contributed to the development of the country.

Allies in Technology also follows the struggles and protests against violence against women [es] and promotes knowledge of the laws that protect women in Venzuela that, unfortunately, women know little about:

Entre los principales logros alcanzados durante esta jornada destacan: la visibilidad pública del tema de violencia contra las mujeres a través de los medios de comunicación masivos; el apoyo y trabajo conjunto de organizaciones e individualidades ante este hecho; y acuerdos con [representantes del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia]

The main achivements of this event include: public visibility on the issue of violence against women through mass media; the support and joint efforts from organizations and individuals in this matter; and the agreements with [representatives from the Supreme Court of Justice]

"Protesta" (Protest) used with permission from Aliadas en Tecnología (Allies in Technology). Sign reads: "Sexism kills, and so does silence. No more violence against women!"

One of the remaining obstacles is the ambivalence in the emancipation of women and in what women want for themselves. The doubts and anxieties in the persuit of self-fulfillment that is divided between the family and professional life is still present, like it is in many other parts of the world. Also, the difficult economic situation in Venezuela demands that work in the home and in the workplace be as strong and as productive as possible. Additionally, many of these women are the head of one-parent households which depend on them in an economic, emotional and domestic level.

As part of the self-fulfillment workshops that the women from Allies in Chains call “Skills for life,” several participants gave their opinion about the value of work [es] and talked about their motivation for joining these training workshops:

Yo he trabajado desde los 15 años, ya que SIEMPRE me ha gustado el dinero, no me gusta depender de los demás, es muy distinto a que yo tenga mi propio dinero a que tenga que esperar que mi pareja cobre para que me dé. Estoy en el curso para aprender y también para conseguir un trabajo que sea de lunes a viernes.

I have worked since I was 15, because I have ALWAYS liked money, I don’t like depending on other people, it is very different to have my own money than to have to wait for my partner to get paid so that he can give me some. I’m in this course to learn and also to find a Monday-Friday job.

Trabajar para mí es una decisión importante ya que un día cualquiera me puse a pensar y me dí cuenta que se me estaba pasando el tiempo y estaba dejando atrás todas aquellas metas que me tracé alguna vez, las cuales dejé a un lado con el nacimiento de mi hija.

[In my opinion,] working is an important decision because one day I started thinking and I realized that I was running out of time and I was leaving behind all those goals that I had some day made, which I put on the side when my daughter was born.

Yo no me siento bien estando todos los días en la casa haciendo oficios, yo sé que es mi deber pero quiero servir para algo más y así sentirme satisfecha conmigo misma.

I don’t feel good doing chores in the house every day, I know that it is my duty but I want to be useful for something else and feel satisfied with myself.

Para mí es importante trabajar porque:
- Me hace sentir que no hay límites para hacerlo, sólo el que uno se pone.
- Mejora mi condición económica.
- Te puedes preparar para el futuro al poder alcanzar tus metas para comprar una vivienda, enseres, obtener beneficios laborales como la pensión, etc.

[In my opinion] it is important to work because:
-It makes me feel like there are no limits to do it, only those one puts on oneself.
-It improves my economic situation.
-It can help you prepare for the future to reach your goals to buy a house, gear, obtain work benefits like a pension, etc.

Fue una decisión importante:
1.- Porque quería ser independiente.
2.- Necesito demostrarme a mí misma que sí puedo, que puedo crecer sola sin que otros estén manteniéndome.
3.- que tengo que tener un buen empleo para costearme mis estudios y lograr tener una carrera.
4.- Que debo superarme para brindarle estabilidad a mi hijo.
5.- Porque quiero demostrarle a mis padres que cuando Yo me propongo algo lo termino y lo logro.
6.- Porque necesito darle una lección a mi esposo, o enseñarle que como mujer soy importante, que tengo metas, sueños, que soy capaz de mantener a mi hijo sola. Que aunque el me dé todo; yo debo ser independiente.

It was an important decision:
1.-Because I wanted to be independent
2.-[Because] I need to show myself that I can, that I can grow alone without others providing for me.
3.-I need to have a good job to pay for my education and obtain a career.
4.-I need to succeed to give my son stability.
5.-Because I want to show my parents that when I plan on doing something I finish it and I accomplish it.
6.-Because I need to teach my husband a lesson, or teach him that as a woman I am important, that I have goals, dreams, that I am capable of providing for my son by myself. That even though he gives me everything; I have to be independent.
Post translated by Silvia Viñas

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