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“Not neglecting the gaps that remain, nor the challenges that lie ahead”

Pdta FMCMarch 8 is a day of struggle for many women in the world. They take to the streets, with banners and loudspeakers, to demand rights such as access to education and decent employment, to family planning, to greater participation and decision-making power. Their governments almost never listen to their demands and history repeats itself the following year. In Cuba, the picture is different.

For 60 years, Cuban women have had a voice and enjoyed rights that many countries can only dream of. “We have been, as Fidel said, a Revolution within the Revolution,” Teresa Amarelle Boué, secretary general of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), told Granma International.

Today, Cuban women represent 53.22% of deputies in the National Assembly of People’s Power, the country’s highest legislative body; and they constitute 48.4% of members of the Council of State. In addition, they make up 60.5% of higher education graduates, and 67.2% of specialists and professionals throughout the nation.

These are not fortuitous achievements, stressed the secretary general of the first mass organization created after the revolutionary triumph of 1959. They are the result of the efforts of Cuban women and the political will of their government. “Therefore, we had a lot to celebrate at the 10th Congress of the Federation,” she noted, which took place March 6-8 in the capital.


Teresa Amarelle explained that on this occasion, the Congress was devised in a different, more dynamic way, closer to the grassroots.

On March 6, four commissions met in different institutions of the city, in which the role of the organization and its mobilizing function in the context of the updating of the Cuban economic model, gender equality in the family and society, and youth as a guarantee of the continuity and functioning of the FMC, were analyzed.

“What to do at the grassroots to be closer to each federation member? How to win the hearts and wills of our young people, so that they continue to love the genuine, authentic, inclusive, united organization that we have created together? These are some of the questions that motivated the debates,” she said.

Reflections regarding gender equality in society and within the family were also a point of discussion, she noted.

Although there has been huge progress on the path to gender equality in Cuba over the last 60 years, sexist patterns continue to predominate, she stressed.

This was demonstrated by results of the National Gender Equality Survey, undertaken in 2016, with the participation of almost 20,000 Cubans. Of them, 28% were aged between 15 and 29 yeas old.

“Although the majority of those surveyed recognized that there is no discrimination on the island,” Amarelle explained, “and 74% stated that each individual’s sexual orientation should be respected, only half of respondents accept that two people of the same sex can be married.”

On the other hand, we must also achieve equal distribution of household chores, both in the social and public spheres. “Thus we avoid women being overburdened with responsibilities that have been socially attributed to them throughout history,” she said.

Such issues were discussed over the three days of the Congress, attended by 360 delegates and 40 guests.


Our priority in this new Congress was to reach the communities, Teresa Amarelle explained, which is a huge challenge under the current conditions.

“Today, our women are assuming responsibilities on other fronts of society, they participate actively in the country’s economy; therefore, the majority are not confined to the home.”

Women make up 60.5% of higher education graduates, and 67.2% of specialists and professionals throughout the nation. Photo: Freddy Pérez Cabrera
Working in communities requires a lot of precision and organization. It is not about summoning people just for the sake of it, and nor can the strategy be the same in every community.

“Isabelita Moya, journalist and women’s rights advocate, told us to whom we pay tribute over these days: ‘The FMC, as the song by Silvio Rodríguez goes, is different – to what it was years ago – but is the same.’”

Today, although the tasks are the same, the way to reach new generations must be different, according to their tastes and needs, she acknowledged.

In this sense, the FMC’s Neighborhood Women and Family Guidance Centers play an essential role. As do the multidisciplinary family law teams, which work together with the courts to undertake a more social and humanistic assessment of family conflicts.

We seek that conflicts be resolved without the court having to dictate an administrative or judicial measure. These two tasks are the most beautiful missions the Federation has, she said.


For Vilma Espín, the eternal president of our organization, the Federation was nothing more than a program for equality, the quest for social justice and support. “We have put all our efforts into maintaining those premises,” Amarelle emphasized.

But much remains to be done. “We need to be more flexible, more dynamic, adapt to the times. The country is updating its economic model, and we must join these changes, adapting our content, to achieve greater participation of women in the life of the organization and the country.”

As part of this effort, she added, we are encouraging the insertion of young women in the voluntary military service; promoting their vocational training, so that they opt for unconventional careers. We are also perfecting the training offered in our Neighborhood Centers, in line with the economic needs of each municipality.

“We must continue, despite all the achievements. Not neglecting the gaps that remain or the challenges that lie ahead. We must analyze what we have achieved as a program of equality; we couldn’t have done so without women committed to their time.”


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