Ethel Da Costa is an Economist by Academics with a Masters in Economics from Goa University, India, she is a passionate award winning Media, Lifestyle and Fashion Journalist-Writer by profession over the last 20 years. Born and raised in the Middle East, Kuwait and now based in India (Goa-Mumbai)
An Ambassador who happily calls himself a Feminist. Who believes India should deserve more beauty queens. Who fully and wholeheartedly endorses that education is the only answer to uplift women. Who then uplift society and the country. Like his motherland Venezuela, which by law enforces 50% mandatory participation in political parties. In conversation with His Excellency Augusto Montiel, Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
THE POLITICS OF GENDER
First impressions are always the best, most times. Sitting down His Excellency was easy. Approachable, friendly and more than happy to share the strides made by his country, the Ambassador of Venezuela in India is a very vocal man.
How do we see equality of gender? I ask. “By equality for all, without distinction of gender or mind. I would say primarily, economic, cultural, social, political, equality of rights and duties. Also, with results that are seen and become tangible. That is our experience in Venezuela,” he shares.
Is that how Venezuela produces the world’s largest number of beauty queens who seem to vanquish world stages and reduce title competitors to tears? Did they have a fail-safe formula? I ask. The Ambassador is amused and pauses before he answers. “India should deserve more beauty queens. Indian women are beautiful with the perfect eyes, face and intelligence. However, beauty is judged by western standards and stereotypes of beauty.
I’ve been in India last 10 months and find Indian women of stature and the right mix of races, which produces unique geno types. Like Venezuelan women who are a mixture of races, cultures and genetics derived from Indigenous tribes, African and European descent,” he clarifies.
THE POLITICS OF EMPOWERMENT – Ambassador
Stirring the conversation back to politics that drives his country vis a vis India, His Excellency asserts there is more to empowerment than just plain talk. “Our initiatives like the Mama Rosa Plan (2013-2019) mean business, with laws to enforce and implement the inclusion of girls and women in general, in decision making processes. We have laws for civil and equality rights. Venezuela accepts Women as an `Economic Subject.’ Our laws give our women 50% representation and national power in politics, in bodies of the judiciary, electoral and legislative.
I know that the president of our Supreme Court was a woman holding the position for 12 odd years. In the top 5 Electoral Commission, 4 positions were held by women for almost 8 odd years. You can revolutionise a country when you make women `inclusive to society building’ . Our budgets invest in education, health and family raising. Our law enforces and implements that no children should be on the streets, but in schools.
The United Nations declared Venezuela had no illiterate women (between 2000-2010), that’s because we help society help women to raise her family, and make them subjects of decision making, not objects,” the Ambassador states passionately. When complemented on his confidence to publicly declare himself a Feminist at an open public forum sharing the podium with political figures and international ambassadors, His Excellency laughs loud, “I have no complexes. Many would be terrified.”
ADVOCATE ACTS OF CHANGE – – Ambassador
Citing that Venezuela was the only country to achieve its 2000 Millennium Goals within 8/9 years, His Excellency believes that equality and equity of gender are built on social justice. He confides “I am a big believer in democracy, but as a socialist.” Citing that the Ministry of Women by law defines the right to live a life without violence, I wonder aloud if that translates into a 0% crime rate? There is silence. “It would not be truthful to say so,” he confesses, adding that each country must practice core values of ethics, honesty, respect, a sense of belonging, cleanliness, communication, trust and discipline without discrimination. “Inclusive and not divisive politics is the key to economic growth and equality,” concludes His Excellency Augusto Montiel, Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.