The Cuban National Report, which has been prepared on the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, highlights the failure to reflect gender gaps in statistical data and little or no use of special tools by justice operators to identify acts of discrimination.
Norma Vasallo, head of the Women’s Chair at the University of Havana, said, however, that the most important thing is to assess the local context in Cuba today.
«We cannot anticipate the impact of the changes that are being introduced into the economic and social model. Some of them may negatively affect women’s progress in the last couple of decades,» she added.
The process to update the economic model in place has sought to increase efficiency, productivity and production, while reducing jobs in the state sector.
Women make up 48 percent of workers in this sector, according to the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI).
Its 2013 Statistical Yearbook, which was published last year, revealed that the unemployment rate among women had moved from two percent in 2008 up to 3.5 percent in 2013.
«Women’s access to employment, education and public life should not be seen as an absolute victory,» stressed Mayda Álvarez, director of the Women’s Study Center at the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC).
«Women are hardly represented in some economic sectors and in decision-making, and are still overburdened with household chores,» she noted.
Twenty years ago
«By the time the Beijing Platform for Action was adopted, Cuba had already met most of its strategic goals,» Álvarez told SEMlac.
They included access to reproductive and sexual health services, as well as technical and professional opportunities for women.
An Action Plan was adopted in 1997 to follow-up Beijing decisions and recommendations.
The 3rd Follow-up Seminar, which was held in May 2013 in Havana with the support of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation, identified 49 recommendations to be considered in the future.
They covered the recognition of women’s contribution to agricultural production and access to managerial positions.
A look at the legislation
They underscored the need to incorporate violence against women into laws, and devise and implement a comprehensive violence prevention, detection and control system.
The latest Cuban report recognizes that the legislation in force has not always provided for the development and implementation of effective gender and family violence coping strategies.
Psychiatrist Ada Alfonso feels that laws have traditionally been based on patriarchal, man-centered conceptions.
The new Family Code, which was passed in late 2013, highlighted the need to apply the gender approach to law-making processes.
This included the protection of the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBTs) and HIV-positive people, and the use of non-sexist, inclusive language.
The bills that were submitted to parliament in connection with free sexual orientation and gender identity were supported by some MPs and rejected by others.
«The new code is the first local legislation explicitly protecting the labor rights of homosexuals,» Francisco Rodríguez, a reporter, blogger and sexual-rights activist, recalled.
Vasallo believes that another important challenge has to do with changes in family life, especially in role-playing at home.
«Family care and support services fail to meet current needs,» the National Report indicated.
«There is an imperative need to build upon the lessons learnt and devise ways and means to deal with new gaps,» she concluded.