Housewives flex their muscles on world stage

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The Independent Online
Buenos Aires (Reuter) - Conservative housewives, tired of watching passively from behind their ironing boards as men and feminists monopolise public debate, plan to muscle onto the global stage with their first world congress.

Under the slogan "Housewives, Citizens of the World," women from 14 countries, including Russia, Italy, Britain, Germany, Japan and Brazil will attend a three-day forum in the Argentine capital, starting today. Several men from Spain will be among the 150 delegates.

"Feminists, lesbians and homosexuals are all occupying the stage, so why can't we?" said Lita de Lazzari, president of Argentina's League of Housewives. The recent United Nations World Conference on Women, in China, was an example of feminists grabbing more than their fair share of limelight, she said, adding: "The only thing I say personally, not speaking for the League, is that the only thing feminists have done is to bring AIDS into the world, with free love and sexual liberty and all that."

Claiming 400,000 members and paying for its own daily cable television programme, Mrs de Lazzari's League is Argentina's top consumer rights organisation and packs a powerful political punch. While she said that housewives do not need to be paid for running the home, they do want respect as professionals, and more access to social security benefits.

But the main focus of the conference will be on family unity, because: "We have realised that taking women out of the home is what produces disasters," Mrs de Lazzari said.