International Women’s Day in Cuba: “Today Could Be a Good Day”

Mujeres con carros rústicos frente a panadería en Cuba. Foto: Francis Sánchez.
Women with rustic carts in front of a Cuban bakery. Photo: Francis Sánchez.

It’s March 8th and they want us to believe that we, Cuban women, have almost everything. But, that’s not true. There’s still a lot to be done in our country for us to achieve real gender equality.

Necessary changes can (and should) begin with us. If it’s up to us to play a more active role in the education of our children (as it’s been proved), then why don’t we make the most of this position and remove sexism from our homes?

Let’s be aware of all the different forms that gender violence takes, and let’s stand with each other. Times of crisis bring out the worst in people, but it also brings out the best. We should show our friendlier side, especially with other Cuban women who share such similar life stories to our own.

Women have decided to strike today in many countries all over the world, for many reasons. We are living in the 21st century, there are societies that enjoy technological advances that make their lives more comfortable and their time more efficient, but in spite of progress, there is still injustice that put women at a disadvantage.

In Cuba, we don’t really have any technological advances. If it’s not very common to see a woman driving it’s because it’s not very common for any Cuban (regardless of their gender) to be able to buy a car, and don’t get me started on technology! This backwardness makes the Cuban women’s struggle about improving their quality of life, in every aspect, and for fairer laws to be passed.

One of the problems our country is facing is an aging population. Many women of a child-bearing age decide not to have children, others emigrate, and those who decide to become mothers only have one child as having two becomes a great ordeal and a huge headache. Our aging population is aggravating the situation of Cuban women because their care falls upon her shoulders.

What could the State do? Well, financially support women who give birth to more than one child and those who work at home as caregivers. Regulate prices of baby products so that every mother and father can buy what their children need, create more day-care centers and encourage the private sector that dedicates itself to daycare (which are mostly run by female entrepreneurs).

Another matter that affects women in Cuba and could be transformed for the better with legal reform, is gender-based violence. What could the State do? Well for starters, penalize street harassment and define femicide as a crime.

On top of all of this, Cuban women need information, they need to know that being a feminist isn’t a bad thing and that it isn’t an extreme or eccentric position to have. Cuban women need to join the fourth wave of feminism, even if their surf board is cracked. They need to know that that there are women, and men, at Cuban universities who are carrying out academic research that might be able to contribute to a rethinking of many of their problems. They need to know that social media is a good space for them to express and inform themselves.

We greet each other because it’s our Day and because we deserve respect; underlining especially the fact that Cuban women should stop and know how to day “NO” when society and their families demand too much of her. This March 8th is a good day to start.

“Today could be a good day.” Ah, and tomorrow too.

Translation: Circles Robinson.

Ana Rivero

Ana Rivero

(La Habana, Cuba). Licenciada en Periodismo (Universidad de La Habana). Profesora, periodista y crítica de arte.
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