March 8th is International Women's Day.
In the face of over four decades of hostility
by the collosus to its north, Cuba remains
a country where women's rights are both
enshrined in the constitution and where
Cuban women have made big gains via
the process of the Revolution. How many
countries have seen women stride ahead
as they have in Cuba since the triumph
of the Revolution there in 1959?
Sexist attitudes remain (centuries old, they
couldn't be eliminated overnight, even by a
revolution), but the material foundation and
the ideological apparatus which supports
them are significantly weakened in Cuba.
Abortion remains free and legal, Catholic
Church attendance is way down, and etc.
Women gained literacy and access to the
workforce with the independence which
employment and money bring.
On the other hand the leadership of the
government and party are still mainly
male. The collapse of the Soviet Union
exacerbated social problems and the
government on the island has addressed
as best it can in a range of ways.
Attitudes toward sexual matters are more
relaxed and matter of fact than in places
where organized religion is enshrined in
the life of the nation, either formally via
the constitution, or informally as in the
United States of America.
Thoughtful professionals are taking up
the full range of issues related to women
sexuality and other topics at the upcoming
16th World Congress of Sexology to be
held in Havana next March (2003). Here
is the website of the Cuban organization
which is hosting the world event.
(Mariela Castro Espín, M.Sc., who is head
of the organization of this event is daughter
of Vilma Espin, one of the longest-standing
leaders of the Cuban Revolution, and the
President of the Federation of Cuban Women
(the FMC). Her father is Raul Castro, who is
Cuba's Minister of Defense.)
Here's a nice gallery of photographs of
Cuban women by a US photographer
who like the island and its people but
isn't overly interested in its politics:
Here are a few postcards from a Cuban website:
United Nations International Women's Day site:
My sense is that, only an end to the blockade and
and end to humanity's domination by the ideas like
unfettered individualism, religious obscrurantism,
greed and the societal and interpersonal violence,
can secure Cuba's ability to build a better society.