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Woman and the Cuban Revolution: How Things Have Changed
Tara Liverios, Columnist
January 1959 was the start of the Cuban Revolution. 50 years later and they are celebrating everything still going strong. This article is for the women who have lived through these changes and beyond, it is for all women, to see that things can change with persistence and time.
January 1959 was the start of the Cuban Revolution. 50 years later and they are celebrating everything still going strong. This article is for the women who have lived through these changes and beyond, it is for all women, to see that things can change with persistence and time. Though the Revolution affected the whole island, in particular women were highly affected in a positive light. So the article is going to be geared toward the aspects of the women’s lives that it changed.
Pre-revolution Cuban women had minimal rights, as it was with most Latin American countries. They received the right to vote in early 1930’s and by 1934 the number of women, who were working outside the home, attending school, and practicing birth control, was very low. It was a little higher than other Latin American countries, but still lower than it should have been. 1940 was probably the most significant time for women prior to the Revolution. President Fulgencio Batista put forth the Cuban Constitution of 1940, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex and required equal pay for equal work, for men and women alike.
Living with Aids in Cuba
In 1960, the FMC (La Federacio`n de la Mujer Cubana/Federation of Cuban Women) was established as an NGO. It was highly recognized by the Cuban government. The organization consists of more than 3 million members and constitutes 85.2% of all women over the age of 14. Their activities cover a large number of areas. They work collaboratively with ministries, trade unions, radio and television programs, and all types of organizations. By doing this, it’s protecting and ensuring the rights of women to make sure they continue. They mount campaigns dealing with community health and education programs, civic rights, and to campaign the quality in the different aspects of women’s lives. They promote and run training programs to ensure that all women are aware of their rights and participate in their communities as much as they wish. Another function they have is to keep developing a non-sexist attitude in the schools and the work place.
Their legal rights have improved considerably, now that they are protected by law. The Labour Code guarantees equal opportunities in the work field. Women and men now share the same legal entitlements, safety in the work place, pension, holidays, sickness entitlements, including social security benefits. Women who have a child have 1 year of maternity leave with pay. The Civil and Family Codes gave women equal rights in their homes in regards to their families and marriages. In 1965 abortion became legal in Cuba and women now have the right to request an abortion without being denied or out cast from her community.
Women have come far in their struggle to have some form of
power also. Now, in central government 18% of ministries and 22.7% of deputy ministries are women. In provincial assemblies, 31% of delegates are women. Within their legal system, women make up 62% of lawyers, 49% of judges, and 47% of Supreme Court Judges. Approximately 20% of Cuban women make up the Cuban armed forces, though all women get some form of military training in order to be able to defend their country if need be.
Women having a Community Meeting in Cuba
The Revolution also changed education for women. Prior to the Revolution most families could not afford to send their children to school for higher education; most girls never went passed the 6th grade. If any child was to go to school, it was the boys because they were considered the bread winners of the family. Women were expected to stay home and cook, clean, and raise the children. Since the Revolution, all schools are co-educational and equal opportunities are now available for male and female alike. As a result, 62% of all University students are women, 49.5% of graduates with higher degrees are women, and in 2000 women represented 50% of graduates in 7 out of 9 branches of the sciences.
Healthcare has been changed in a very positive way also. Cubans now have access to a full range of health services they did not have before. Importantly, sexual and reproductive health was included, as well as annual cervical and breast screenings to prevent and/or detect cancer. Unfortunately the US blockade still makes it very difficult to get adequate supplies, medicine, and equipment. Despite the blockade, they still have made considerable strides to ensure that the people get a better quality of health care provided to them.
Music and dance also has made an impact in women’s lives since the Revolution. Hip-Hop in particular has given women a way to voice their opinions on the sexism and unfairness that still exists in Cuba. The “perreo”, which is the popular dance style in Cuba, is another example of how things have changed. The dance places the woman in front of the man, which says more through its symbolism than anything else. A perfect example of “actions speak louder than words.”
There is so much to say about Cuba and its Women that I could continue much further. I believe that my job is to provide people with enough information to serve as a way to educate them enough to spark their interest on the subject, and for them to further their interest on their own. My goal is to be able to write articles about women from all over the world, from first-hand experience - to visit the countries, and report after researching and interviewing. That way, I feel I can make a difference.
Tara Liverios I love writing and I love reading. My favorite place to spend time is in a book store. I could spend the whole day just browsing. I also love the library too. I worked in the library for 3 yrs when I was in college and I loved it. My biggest goal is to use my writing to help raise awareness and self confidence in different areas of interest and on important issues. I also hope to have some fun doing it as well.