News »

Thanks to Fidel and Vilma, for the women that we are

23-08-1960-02They say that before Fidel, before 1959, Cuban women – like those of almost the whole world – were at best: an ornament in the home, and at worst: a servant with a load of domestic work not paid; transparent, anonymous, whose opinion on political or social issues was not considered.

They say that they were obliged to have all their children procreated, because between the precepts of religions and the cost of an interruption of pregnancy, not even thinking about an abortion.

They say that in a family when deciding the children who would go to school, the boys were chosen, because the females were needed in the house.

They say that working women represented 17 percent of the active labor population and received a significantly lower salary than men for a similar job.

They say that there was no woman in Parliament, and -among many other truths- that prostitution was a consequence of the economic and social environment of the so-called “weaker sex”.

After 1959, when the triumphant Revolution began to make decisions, the lives of Cuban women took a 180-degree turn, and for some 360.

Just one year after the revolutionary victory, on August 23, 1960, the Federation of Cuban Women, FMC, was created, led by a young woman who had broken with almost all the molds in which they tried to put women.

It was Vilma Espín Guillois, an educated woman, a university student, a warrior against the government dictatorship on the plains and in the mountains. That lady dressed as a soldier to defend all Cubans, and especially women, one of the most oppressed sectors of society.

Since its inception, the women’s organization had the unconditional support of the highest levels of government, where surely not a few, with important responsibilities, doubted the ability of women to assume the roles performed by men.

They were also limited to the role of “housewife” and according to research at the time, women were the majority among the more than 800,000 illiterate people at that time.

Then job offers began to open up for women, courses in home economics, cutting and sewing, the opportunity to become literate, to become a university student, appeared, all without paying a penny.

Currently, according to the 2020 Yearbook, 2021 edition, of the National Statistics and Information Office (ONEI), women represent 39.3 percent of the country’s economically active population, of which the majority work in Public Health and Social Assistance and Education, with 357 thousand and 325 thousand workers, respectively.

Today, Cuba is the second of the five countries in the world that reach the gender parity classification in Parliament.

According to a report recently released by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the five nations that achieve gender parity or a higher proportion of women in their lower or single chamber in 2022 are: Rwanda (61.3%), Cuba (53 .4%) and Nicaragua (51.7%) that occupy the first three positions, respectively; while Mexico (50%) and the United Arab Emirates (50%) share the fourth seat, at the end of June this year.

Since 1960, the year in which the organization known as FMC emerged, it was affirmed that for women in Cuba, a Revolution was taking place within the Revolution, and so it was, it was clearly seen how, step by step, the female sector was advancing, without displacing the men, but shoulder to shoulder with them.

As we have already said, there was the hand of Vilma Espín presiding over the FMC, a hand shaken and supported by the leader Fidel Castro, who in his efforts to remove the yoke from the enslaved, distinguished and defended women.

Fidel was not unaware of the smallest detail of women’s domestic life, in one of his speeches in 1960 he stated: “We must also study all the problems of Cuban women, we must study the problems of women who have to work and have nowhere to leave their children. Until now the creches are insufficient”

And the Children’s Circles, the semi-boarding schools, the internal scholarships, and other modalities arose to facilitate the education and feeding of the children, while their mothers worked.

In short, the opportunity of the right to life, to health, to education, to employment, to technical and cultural improvement, to access to management positions, to vote, to elect and be elected, was opened to women. to protect their reproductive and sexual rights, and family planning, among others.

It is not idle to remember that in 1961 the first Night Schools for Improvement for Domestics were created (fundamentally referring to the so-called “maids” who worked in domestic service), in which women received classes from literacy to sixth grade, with classrooms for cutting and sewing, shorthand and typing.

A motoring course began with 1,440 female students, contributed to Popular Transport with more than 1,000 drivers; and the special course for office work, which began with 1,100 students, employed 1,078 girls in bank agencies, ministries and state-owned companies.

That is why the first years of changes, prostitution was eradicated. The census that was being carried out in the Literacy Campaign was used to census women and other people in prostitution centers. Many stated their desire to learn a trade to work and get out of that “life”, others were offered schools to train them; all received a medical check-up with free treatment.

“Before the revolutionary triumph, tens of thousands of women were in this terrible situation, prostituted because of the economic situation. We thought that eradicating prostitution was going to be a long and difficult task. So it was a surprise for everyone that it disappeared as a social evil in less than two years,” Fidel said in a speech.

62 years have passed, and the world is no longer the same, nor are Cuban women, even today severe limitations are detected due to the reproduction of traditional models of behavior in all sectors, which are transmitted through formal and informal education, which is valid to measure attitudes in the modification of codes, relations between genders, and their social projection. This shows that, despite the structural and subjective barriers in gender relations being broken down, other subjective obstacles still remain that hinder integration.

But if we women see what we were, what we meant then and we look at ourselves today, the difference is enormous.

For those who are unaware of the trajectory of Cuban women, who did not take advantage of their history classes, did not have good teachers, or did not receive true women’s traditions from their families, it is impossible to assess what the Revolution has meant for Cuban women.

Sometimes we hear young people and not so young people say that in this country they don’t have opportunities, etc. etc. etc., and we think they are unfair, but they are not. They are ignorant of the history of their country, or have lost their memory among so many ups and downs experienced by this people where the woman -despite EVERYTHING- continues to carry the load and the reins of the home, she continues to be the rudder, the trunk, the family guide.

If we put any woman of our ancestry on one side and place ourselves on the other, we would have to say without fear of being wrong: Thank you Fidel, Thank you Vilma, for having made us people capable of deciding our destinies, for or against. , but whatever decision we make, we owe it to you.

(By Susana Tesoro/Cubadebate)


Make a comment

Your email address will not be published. The mandatory fields are marked. *