Women were relegated in the state-owned enterprises’ boards of directors
On many occasions, Presidents Hugo Chavez and Nicolás Maduro defined themselves as feminists and insisted on the need to make women visible and include them in areas and functions that were mainly aimed at men. However, when choosing the highest authorities of the state-owned enterprises conglomerate, the rulers did not think the same.
According to the State-owned Enterprises: Phase II investigation, carried out by Transparencia Venezuela and presented in November 2018, out of 226 enterprises whose boards of directors are known, only 81 have women in senior positions.
The data of each one of the enterprises can be consulted in Vendata, the largest open data platform in the country, promoted in partnership with the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela (Venezuela’s Press and Society Institute, IPYS) and Transparencia Venezuela.
The information published in Vendata also shows that in the group of enterprises that show the composition of its board of directors, 26 have a woman as the highest authority. That is, only 12% of the enterprises are presided over by women.
Irregularities without gender
The data also shows that there are women who preside over state enterprises and at the same time hold other positions within the public administration, an irregular practice that has become common in the last 20 years in Venezuela and reduces opportunities for other people.
It stands out the case of Yomana Koteich Khatib, who is Minister of Foreign Trade and also chairs the Foreign Trade Bank and the National Center for Foreign Trade, as published in the Official Gazette No. 41,422, dated 19 June 2018, which can also be consulted in Vendata.
The data indicate that enterprises led by women belong to the agrifood, manufacturing, mining, metallurgy, financial, health, communications, hydrocarbons and transportation sectors.
Most of the enterprises run by women were created or confiscated during Chavez and Maduro governments, and they are operational, at least for what could be verified when the investigation of State-owned Enterprise: Phase II was conducted.
The high level of opacity and governmental secrecy has prevented from knowing the boards of directors of the rest of the state-owned enterprises. The enterprises are not accountable and the ministries and their dependencies do not publish their report and accounts since 2015.
There is much to be done
The information recorded in Vendata about the presence of women in boards of directors of SOEs is another fact that shows that, contrary to Chavismo’s discourse, female participation in high positions of state enterprises is very low. Another sign that women’s demands, rights and opportunities ended in a lot of rhetoric and few results.
The gender approach in public policies served to hinder electoral processes, but not to diminish, for example, the high rates of teenage pregnancy that Venezuela leads throughout the region. Women were given greater participation in political scenarios, but institutions lacked public policies with gender focus: there were no indicators of reproductive and maternal health, nor did they delve into other key issues such as productive and reproductive work, sexual division of labor, practical needs and strategic interests by gender and mainstreaming of the gender approach.
In the current context, what we see is the feminization of poverty, given the deterioration of living conditions in terms of income poverty that affects the majority of women in many areas essential for their development: social, labor, family.
Creating a Ministry for Women in 2009 was not enough.