The United Nations Population Fund decided to focus on girls, women and youngsters on the occasion of the World Population Day last July 11.
The world population is expected to reach seven billion this year. Aware of the fact that the decisions that are made today will have quite an impact on the health of the planet tomorrow, the Fund is seeking to promote mass participation and solidarity around the globe.
"The youth of today is changing society and helping build a better future for all," said UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin.
There are over 1.5 billion people aged 10 to 24 living in the world. This is the highest number of youngsters in history, and most of them reside in developing countries.
The documentary film Páginas de la educación en Cuba (Cuban education pages), which was written and directed by Ernesto A. Vázquez, has just been given the Elena Gil Iberian-American Ethics Award by the Félix Varela Center.
The jury made its decision in recognition of Vázquez ethical approach to education in Cuba during the 18th and 19th centuries.
The five-episode film, which has not been premiered on the island yet, features interviews with outstanding scholars, dramatizations, and archive images.
"Vázquez work team has developed an impeccable audiovisual material, including photography, sound mixing, editing and post-production," a judge said.
Changes in sexuality over the last few decades have had quite an impact on demographic indicators like fertility.
Heydi Cárdenas, a 37-year-old nurse living in Havana, fully agrees with such a statement.
"My mother often told me that she had made a terrible mistake when she got married at 18 and had four children in a row. She confessed once that all she wanted was to get rid of her grandparents' control. I decided I would not make the same mistake," Cárdenas said.
"I had several boyfriends, but I really started living together with one of them when I was 28," she added.
Asela Díaz (41) works at an art gallery. She loves plastic arts so much that she has conducted in-depth research into Cuban painters in different periods. She has had to focus lately on caring for her mother, however. She had a stroke several years ago and has been in bed ever since.
"People can be really cruel sometimes. A friend of mine told me once that I look after my mother in such a way that she will never die," she recalled.
"I do my best to live a normal life: go for a drink with my friends and visit an exhibition whenever I find somebody to take care of my mother," she added.
"I occasionally get depressed or suffer from high blood pressure. My only brother left Cuba for good, so he can only send me some money once in a while," she stressed.
"The local society needs to conduct an in-depth, multidisciplinary study over racial identity and cultural paradigms," said Rodrigo Espina, an anthropologist working for the Juan Marinello Cuban Cultural Research Institute.
Speaking at an International Seminar on Afro-descendant People in the Americas , which was held last June 13- 17 in Havana under the auspices of the United Nations, he indicated that some manifestations of racial discrimination are still being seen on the island.
The 1959 revolution put an end to all forms of inequality based on race and provided all citizens with free access to education, healthcare, and employment.
"But five decades of socialism have not been enough to really change cultural traditions that are five centuries old," stressed Norma Guillard, a local psychologist.
Lizette Vila's documentary film El tiempo de la cosecha (Harvest Time) has just been premiered.
Based on life experiences of six Cuban men, it is a call to harmony, love, and peaceful coexistence.
They include a dentist, a Lutheran minister, an HIV/AIDS activist, a security guard, an actor, and a faceless man.
"Our idea was to look at the other side of the coin from a feminist perspective," Vila said. She is the manager of the project Palomas (Dove) defending sexual diversity, gender equality, and a culture of peace.
Supported by UNAIDS, the Latin American and Caribbean Movement of Positive Women is conducting a research into the vulnerabilities of HIV-infected women in the region. The idea is to make them visible and benefit from public policies.
Established in 1999, the Movement is composed of organizations based in 19 countries and seeks to improve the quality of life of these women.
To be made public next month, the research findings will show the actual situation of HIV-positive women in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela and Uruguay.
Around 550,000 adult women are currently living with HIV in the region. They account for 34 percent of the total number of infected people (1.6 million) on this continent.
The Inter-American Human Rights Commission has asked the Haitian government to try those involved in crimes under Jean Claude Duvalier’s dictatorship in the 1971-1986 period.
“The State has agreed to prosecute those who committed human rights violations and has for this purpose requested technical support from the Commission,” said Sylvie Bajeux, a spokesperson for the Ecumenical Human Rights Center, the Kay Fanm Women’s Association, the Haitian Women’s Movement for Education and Development, and the National Human Rights Network.
She told SEMlac that some people believe that Duvalier cannot be tried under immunity standards.
“The Commission has made it clear, however, that extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances under the regime are considered crimes against humanity that are still punishable and cannot be covered by amnesty,” she indicated.
Local actress Eslinda Núñez has just been granted the 2011 National Film Award. This is the first time a woman has been given the prize since it was instituted in 2003.
She was selected from among 17 candidates, in recognition of her outstanding career.
Speaking at the award ceremony, last June 11 in Havana, she dedicated the prize to late filmmaker Humberto Solás, with whom she worked on numerous occasions.
Miguel Barnet, president of the National Association of Cuban Artists and Writers (UNEAC), highlighted her remarkable talent and significant contribution to the local motion picture industry.
Daniel A. Martirena, a 27-year-old electrical engineer living in the province of Santiago de Cuba, 860 kilometers east of Havana, happened to change his mind about gender issues only a year ago, when he got involved in training and awareness-raising actions by the University of Oriente's Gender Study Group.
"I thought I had never hurt or abused my wife. I let her go out alone and tried to make plans together and have the same friends. I found out, at one of these courses, that such a thing was not right," he told SEMlac.
The Group was officially established by the local School of Psychology in 2006, but efforts along these lines had got underway much earlier.
"We started working on gender relations and violence in 1995, four years after Psychology became a specialty at the University of Oriente," said Group coordinator Rosa M. Reyes.