Women in Cuba Defending Conquests

Elio Delgado Legon

women-1HAVANA TIMES — For some months now, Cuban women have been enthusiastically organizing the ninth congress of the Cuban Women’s Federation (FMC), scheduled to take place in March of 2014. One of the characteristics of this process that caught my attention is the participation of young women, willing to take on new responsibilities within the FMC and to defend the achievements of the revolution.

One really could not expect anything else, for Cuban women have gained much dignity since the triumph of the revolution on January 1, 1959.

Before that date, most Cuban women didn’t get too far past the second grade in terms of schooling. Though we have no reliable statistics for the time, we know that the female workforce consisted of a few thousand teachers (many of whom were unemployed), a handful of nurses and a great many house maids, all living on measly salaries and under degrading conditions.

This situation – the reality of numerous countries today – has radically changed in Cuba. Today, after 55 years of revolutionary leadership, Cuban women can boast of achievements that continue to be mere dreams for millions of people around the world.

In terms of education and labor, Cuban women represent 65.6 percent of Cuba’s professional and specialized workforce and 62.8 percent of all university graduates. These two, plain figures eloquently show the degree to which Cuban women have been empowered.

Cuba was one of the first countries to sign and ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), something many countries that call themselves defenders of human rights and try to teach the world lessons in governance have yet to do.

Algerian lawyer Meriem Belmihoub-Zerdani, member of the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, recently declared in Geneva that Cuba is to be held up as an example in the struggle for gender equality around the world, praising the country for the degree of leadership that Cuban women have secured in all areas.

Today, Cuban women are the majority in the fields of education and public health and are making bold inroads in the sciences. In addition, they are occupying positions that were once the exclusive domain of men.

Many Cuban women also hold management positions in different sectors – we can find them at the helm at schools, hospitals, companies, universities and ministries, as ministers and vice-ministers.

Another interesting fact is that the life expectancy of Cuban women is greater than that of men. This is thanks to health programs tailored specifically for women, such as the maternity and child program, early cervical, uterine and breast cancer detection programs and others.

Holding 48.36 percent of seats in parliament, Cuban women occupy the third place in the world in terms of that indicator. In addition, their reproductive and sexual rights are guaranteed, as is their access to healthcare, education, social security and employment, where they receive the same salaries men do and are able to freely choose their path as professionals.

To sum up, Cuban women reached the UN Millennium Goals long ago and, today, they wholeheartedly prepare for their congress, sure that their achievements will always be respected in Cuba.

Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.


16 thoughts on “Women in Cuba Defending Conquests

  • January 12, 2014 at 1:21 pm
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    I’ve been surfing from article to article in the Havana Times for almost 4 hours this morning, and this is the first positive article I have read. I haven’t come across any articles so far that reflect any understanding of the theory of communism, but thanks for this article, though I think women would do better to think as much about human rights as they do about women’s rights. To Moses Patterson, hey! A low fertility rate isn’t bad. In fact, Cuba’s success in stabilizing and hopefully starting to reduce its population, in an eco-world being probably fatally undermined by excess human population and human encampment growth, ought to stand as one of the greatest achievements of the revolution. It’s the key to the eventual provision of equal housing, for instance, and to any hope of economic production catching up to and getting ahead of the consumer count, and to the achievement of self sufficiency, very important on an island. -Glen Roberts – iammyownreporter.com

  • January 9, 2014 at 9:50 am
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    Don’t confuse the low incidence of street crime in Cuba with the strength of a “functioning social safety net”. The fact that Cuba is a undeniable police state is more likely the reason there is lower crime. While police states do stifle criminal activity, they are also well known to stifle personal freedoms as well. Careful what you wish for….

  • January 9, 2014 at 8:48 am
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    The full economic statistics are openly reported in the US, including the various categories of employment and unemployment. The lower unemployment rate one usually sees reported in the media are because the journalists quoting the statistics tend to be highly supportive of the Obama and are putting the best possible spin on the employment figures. More critical journalists in turn will point to the full economic statistics which show that the US employment situation is still rather bad. In the US, the media have their biases and give the news their preferred spin, but any sensible reader can inform himself of the full data and make up his own mind. I assume that’s how you managed to learn that the full unemployment rate is much higher than reported in the headlines of the NYT.

    Full US economic data available here: http://www.bls.gov/

    What Fez is describing is a very different situation in Cuba. The government office Fez worked at, ONIE, is the only source for information on the Cuban economy. They routinely lie about the statistics as a matter of policy, especially to foreign international organizations. The only media in Cuba is run by the government and they print only what the government tells them to print. There are no other sources of information (Hint: It’s kind of like an internal blockade, isn’t it?)

    That means the next time somebody quotes statistics from the WHO or UN or UNESCO on some wonderful social or economic results in Cuba, you can be 100% certain the organization in question did not obtain the data directly, but rather they got it through ONIE, direct from the Castro regime propaganda mill. Even the statistics reported at the CIA webpage on Cuba are sourced directly from the Cuban government (as Moses pointed out).

    Recall when the Communist dictatorships of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union collapsed, and many gullible Western academics were shocked to learn that the marvellous social statistics they had believed were all false. Life expectancy in the East Bloc & USSR was a decade shorter than reported. Drug and alcohol addiction rates were much higher than reported. Infant mortality rates were higher. Cancer rates were higher. Literacy rates were lower. And so on.

    There is absolutely no sound reason to expect the situation is any different in Cuba. The Castro regime releases false statistics to a gullible international community who lap it up because it confirms their own leftist political biases.

  • January 8, 2014 at 3:36 pm
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    Cuban women are voting with their wombs. They are having fewer and fewer children. Cuba has the highest abortion rate in the Western hemisphere. Women of child bearing age are leaving in ever greater numbers. As a result, the Cuban population is aging rapidly and starting to shrink.

    This demographic time-bomb will destroy the regime more thoroughly than any US embargo. Unless and until the Cuban government makes the real changes necessary to convince Cuban women to stay on the island and raise families, then not only is the regime doomed, so will be the Cuban nation.

  • January 8, 2014 at 10:56 am
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    I get out quite a bit thanks. It’s funny to hear you quoting Spiro Agnew.

  • January 7, 2014 at 8:34 pm
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    There’s an article over on the Huffington Post about “How to Grow Old Gracefully.” One of the bullet points is to abjure constant negativity. Occasionally, it might be better for your mental health, Griffin, to go off-line, get out of the basement, take a walk in the sun and enjoy the tweeting of the (real) birds, rather than just the artificial tweets of those “nattering nabbobs of negativity!”

  • January 7, 2014 at 12:01 pm
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    Aside from a handful of urban centres with extremely high crime rates, (Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC, etc) most of the USA has very low crime rates.

    Cuba has lower crime rates than most of the rest of Latin America, (one of the fringe benefits of living in a police-state) but there are places in Havana you would be a fool to walk in late at night.

  • January 7, 2014 at 11:56 am
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    Wow! What a jerk!

    Did you even notice how you wrote a trite, formulaic salute to the FMC, and then in the next sentence reverted to a sleazy, sexist insult in the next???

    You are a perfect example of the condescending progressive male who gives lip service in support of feminism, the very type of man who has limited Cuban women from gaining true sexual equality.

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