Tha alliance Con Ellas, formed by the following organizations Accion Solidaria, Centro de Justicia y Paz (Cepaz), Funcamama, Prepara Familia, Uniandes and Union Afirmativa, presented the report, “Being a Woman in Venezuela: Community Diagnosis and Proposals for Humanitarian Action”. This study gathers information on the differentiated impact that the complex humanitarian emergency that Venezuela is going through has on women and girls. It also presents proposals to mitigate the impact of the specific violations detailed in the report.
The data presented were collected by Venezuelan civil society organizations and through community diagnoses carried out in the field in almost 6,500 households in 18 states of the country, compiled on the HumVenezuela platform. Being a woman in Venezuela exposes the differentiated violation in the access and exercise of the rights of women and girls in the following areas: health, food, life free of violence, human mobility and the specific affectation of LGBTI people, from a gender and diversity perspective.
Some health figures
One in four women never has access to disposable sanitary pads. Menstrual poverty is experienced by thousands of adolescent girls and women in Venezuela. This number worsens to three out of five women when it comes to reusable sanitary pads, tampons, menstrual cups, among other menstrual hygiene products.
The United Nations Population Fund has noted that when women do not have adequate sanitary items and facilities for menstrual hygiene, they miss days of school or work. They are also more prone to infections.
In addition, inoperative health services (17%) and lack of resources (60%) impede women’s access to health care for chronic diseases. Thirty-two percent of the women surveyed showed that they or a member of their family has a chronic health condition. The most frequent conditions are hypertension, diabetes, hypo/hyperthyroidism and renal insufficiency.
The report shows that 32% said that they had not received the necessary medicines for their treatment. The main cause, 68%, is the cost of medication. In addition, women tend to limit their health expenses in order to prioritize food.
The report details that 8 out of 10 women consider that the amount of food they bring to their homes is deficient (47.79%) scarce, or very scarce. This despite the fact that 6 out of 10 responded that almost the entire family budget is spent on food. Seventy-six percent stated that at least one person in their family group is malnourished.
Among the strategies most used by women to acquire food are: buying on credit (36%), spending savings (55%), borrowing food or help from others (40%), borrowing money (43%), reducing portion sizes (65%), reducing the number of meals per day (44%) or reducing health, education or other expenses (40%). In addition, 94% resort to buying cheaper food, among these, 61% point to CLAP bags as a source of supply.
The main causes motivating women’s human mobility are getting or changing jobs and improving their income (32%), family reunification and access to medicines and health services (16%). When women in mobility were asked about the difficulties they have faced, 3 out of 10 answered that they encountered obstacles to making the move, with costs (96%) being the main reason. The need for resources associated with moving or migrating tends to be greater for women, due to higher costs associated with gender bias.
Regarding the intention to move, 1 out of every 10 women indicated that they wanted to move. Sixty-four percent wanted to move to another country, mainly to: improve their income (25%), have access to medicines or health services and/or access to public services (24%), get or change jobs (16%), and reunite with family members (11%).
Women victims of violence
The situation of the rights of women victims of gender-based violence in Venezuela is bleak. By 2021, 7% of the women interviewed reported having been victims of family violence. The most prevalent types of violence were: psychological (87%), physical (59%), symbolic (25%), economic (24%) and sexual (10%). In 64% of the cases of adult women, this violence was committed by partners or ex-partners.
Only 31% of the women who reported being victims of violence reported or denounced what happened. Sixty percent did so to a public institution or office. Thirty percent preferred to go to friends or neighbors and 10% to social organizations. The main reasons for not reporting were that the acts were not considered serious (37%), fear of reprisals (36%), distrust of institutions (14%) and because the services for reporting are inaccessible to victims (9%).
No official figures
In addition, women victims of violence do not find information about existing support networks to turn to. Sixty-one percent responded that they have no contact or relationship with any social organization, and 50% prefer to seek support from among themselves. Thirty percent rely on friends and neighbors and less than 8% on churches and religious organizations.
Despite this context, it is not possible to have access to official figures on gender-based violence in Venezuela. Since 2016 there are no new data or official figures that allow establishing femicide rates. There is also no evidence of data collection disaggregated by categories, nor publications with due explanation of the methodology applied.
Upon the people who identified themselves as part of the LGBTI community, 31% indicated that they have some kind of chronic health condition. Of this group, 39% said that they do not have any type of medical care. Twenty-five percent indicated that they do not have medicines for treatment.
Almost half (48%) of the LGBT people surveyed said they had suffered some episode of abuse or violence by third parties. 48% of lesbian women surveyed reported having experienced some type of abuse or violence by a police officer. Nineteen percent of binary people have been subjected to abuse or violence by co-workers.
Within the family group, psychological (38%), symbolic (27%) and physical (22%) violence are the most common. Seventy-three percent admitted that they did not file a complaint due to lack of access to the corresponding authorities (19%); fear of reprisals (17%); distrust (15%) or because the abuse or violence was not considered serious (44%).
The proposals made by the alliance Con Ellas are: (i) the periodic publication of official figures on the crisis disaggregated by sex, (ii) the prioritization in the location and allocation of funds to projects with a gender approach and to organizations working in the field, (iii) favoring comprehensive health care for women with communicable or non-communicable, chronic and high-cost conditions, (iv) development of emergency policies for the care of women in situations of mobility with a focus on protection and rights, (v) combating discrimination, violence and gender stereotypes, (vi) promoting capacity building for women’s economic independence, and (vii) implementing inclusive food policies with special attention to pregnant women and children and adolescents.
Read the full report here