Caracas, Venezuela (VA) – Condolences and tributes to the legendary revolutionary and champion of women’s rights, Nora Castañeda, have been pouring in from across Venezuela following news of the activist’s death on Saturday night.
An economist, university lecturer and much loved revolutionary, Castañeda is renowned for having founded and presided over Venezuela’s internationally celebrated Women’s Development Bank, “Banmujer” since 2001. She was also one of the chief protagonists of the autochthonous Venezuelan working class women’s movement which emerged in the 1980s.
“Nora, mission accomplished… We will remember you with gratitude and admiration, and we will continue your example by building the homeland,” tweeted Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, in tribute.
Born and raised by her mother in a poor single parent family, Castañeda’s upbringing quickly instilled her with a passion for justice for working class women which extended beyond Venezuela. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, she travelled to Nicaragua with her husband, Jesus Rivero, to support the Sandinista struggle against the Somoza regime before eventually returning to Venezuela to take up the torch of women’s liberation once again.
As a militant of the Socialist League, Castañeda fought against the repressive “pacted” democracy of the Fourth Republic (1958-1998) and attempted to bring gender politics to the fore of the left’s political agenda by founding the “Women’s League” from within the party.
Following the Bolivarian revolution’s rise to power in 1999, Castañeda’s long history of militant activism earned her the role of chief ally and adviser to former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and she was key to orientating his government’s politics on gender.
Some of the most progressive gender policies of the Bolivarian revolution, such as the inclusion of the female pronoun throughout the country’s 1999 Constitution, the recognition of women homemakers’ work as “productive” and their right to social security, have been attributed to her activism and input.
“A fighter, heroine, feminist, brave, compatriot, and a champion of women’s organisation… I am pained not to be able to have her here for this stage in women’s organisation, given that she was the architect of this great dream,” stated newly appointed Minister for Women and Gender Equality, Gladys Requena.
The feminist revolutionary was awarded a posthumous “Order of the Liberator” title by Vice-president, Jorge Arreaza, on Sunday. The order is the highest honour conferred on to an individual for service to the Venezuelan homeland.
By Rachael Boothroyd for venzuelanalysis.com