Local women outlive men and die mostly of non-transmissible chronic diseases.
With a life expectancy exceeding 80 years, Cuban women are suffering from and dying of "daily life", an expert indicated.
"Traditionally assigned gender roles have quite an impact on disease occurrence and health-related problems," a research work revealed.
Entitled Cuban women and social change in the last 50 years, the study was conducted by a multidisciplinary group in mid 2010.
Cuba's Danays Bautista made news last spring in Madrid. I immediately recognized her voice when she said: "I really needed to come."
With no dramatic overtones, she told me about her accident in a subway, chopping off her arm and leaving her injured for the rest of her life.
She had to endure all that pain without seeing what was going on at Numancia Station. She simply fell. Fortunately, a passenger quickly activated the hand brake and saved her.
She also told me that she was very thankful to Gregorio Marañón Hospital staff for all their care, especially after she was informed of the amputation that had to be performed.
Sensitization workshops have been successfully held under a community-based Comprehensive Development Project in Alamar, a residential district in East Havana.
Local students at the Cuba-South Africa Friendship junior high school have become aware of the fact that acts of violence do not only include physical aggression, but also psychological abuse and many other manifestations.
First implemented in 1988, following a suggestion by President Fidel Castro, these projects now cover 20 vulnerable neighborhoods in nine municipalities of the capital city.
The idea is to promote physical, social and environmental change through mass participation.
Equality is often defined as a pillar for democracy. Cultural barriers have made it difficult for women to play the same leading roles as men in society. This situation is slowly being redressed, however.
There are women presidents in four countries of the region: Cristina Fernández in Argentina, Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, Portia Simpson in Jamaica, and Laura Chinchilla in Costa Rica.
Women started taking up political positions several years ago. Election laws were amended at the turn of the century in countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela.
A report of the Latin America and Caribbean Gender Equality Observatory indicated that the new pieces of legislation set a minimum percentage of women (ranging from 20 to 40 percent) in government and decision-making posts.
Reed mace (Scirpus californicus) is the raw material Berta Soto has been using to make ecological paper in the last three years. This water plant growing wild in the Titicaca Lake goes unnoticed, however, to most people.
Soto’s invention has been registered with the National Intellectual Property Service (under number 9410). She discovered the process by chance, around 15 years ago, when her children were still small and she wanted them to go to school.
Born and raised in Copacabana, a settlement by the lake, teenage Soto decided to move to La Paz and work as a maid. Seven years later, however, she went back to her hometown, got married, and had her children in Isla del Sol (Sun Island).
She kept moving back and forth to sell produce in the capital city. When her husband died, she could no longer do so and became a laundrywoman and street vendor. As she was not making enough money to support her family, she took up the idea of paper making.
Local women take up 54.7 percent of total work, including unpaid household chores, according to a book that was launched on March 11 in the Cuban capital.
Sponsored by the Spanish Development Cooperation Agency (AECID), Women in transition was written by economist Teresa Lara, who applied the gender approach to statistical data processing.
AECID coordinator Juan D. Ruiz indicated that the book shows how much progress Cuban women have made in the last few decades.
In a chapter devoted to employment, Lara used the term total work as a visibility indicator in the sexual division of labor.
While men in the countryside have been taught to toil the land and support their families, women have been expected to stay at home, cooking, washing, cleaning, and looking after family members without getting paid. This is now changing, however.
Nervys Ferry was left alone with her grandmother in the easternmost province of Guantánamo, when her mother and five brothers decided to move to Havana. Some years later, she was trained as a veterinarian, got married and had three children.
"Our economic situation became so critical that my mother asked me to come and settle down in Havana too, shortly after my grandmother died," she told SEMlac. "This was 28 years ago," she recalled.
She started working here as a veterinarian, but she got pregnant again and decided to become self-employed. "My husband, who had always been a farmer, helped me change my mind," she added.
A new workshop on gender issues has just been held under the auspices of the Cuban Association for Animal Production (ACPA) in the capital city.
Simultaneously scheduled in the eastern provinces of Las Tunas and Granma, the three-day event was intended mainly for decision makers and heads of national organizations and agencies.
"We are, for the very first time, implementing a joint action of this kind," said Dilcia García, gender project manager at ACPA.
"The idea is to hold similar workshops in other provinces such as Camagüey, Mayabaque and Artemisa (these two former Havana), and in the Special Municipality of the Isle of Youth in the next 12 months," she announced.
Heroes are well known; they have monuments erected in their honor; their brave deeds are taught at school. There are heroines, however, who have remained anonymous over the years.
María C. Barcia, a history professor at the University of Havana, indicated that apparently simple, daily actions can be equally significant.
She delivered a lecture on Encarnación Varona, a woman who was born and lived in the eastern province of Camagüey and suffered real hardship during the First War of Independence (1868-1978), at an International Colloquium on Women and Emancipation in Latin America and the Caribbean in the 19th and 20th Centuries.
Held on February 21-25 at Casa de Las Américas in Havana, the event was presided over by essayist Luisa Campuzano and was attended by researchers, professors, writers, and gender experts of Mexico, Spain, Italy, Canada, and Cuba.
Women's issues were raised at the 20th International Book Fair, but gender-related productions failed to meet growing demand.
This came from Annalía Ramírez, a 21-year-old Social Communication student who attended the launching of Isabel Moya's Sin contraseñas: Género y transgresión mediática (No password: Gender and media transgression) and Julio C. González' Macho, varón, masculino (Macho men), at the Cuba Pavilion in Havana.
The former is the editor-in-chief of Women magazine and an expert in gender issues and communication. The latter is a history professor and the coordinator of the Iberian-American Network on Masculinity.
"We really need this kind of books," Ramírez told SEMlac. "They help us deal with gender issues in a responsible manner," she added.