That fact that education in Cuba has relied mainly on women has not been properly recognized to date.
The statement came from an International Colloquium on Women in Education, History and Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean, which was held last February 23-27 in Havana.
At the opening ceremony, which was organized by Casa de Las Américas Women’s Study Program, special mention was made of outstanding professors at the University of Havana in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
Camila Henríquez (1894-1973), Rosario Novoa (1905-2002), Mirta Aguirre (1912-1980), and Vicentina Antuña (1909-1993) were all forerunners of feminist research and praxis.
Writer Mirta Yáñez, a disciple of Camila Henríquez in the 1960s, underscored the contribution of this Dominican-Cuban professor to Latin American feminism in the first half of the 20th century.
Speaking of Rosario Novoa, who developed the first curriculum on Art History in Cuba in the 1960s, Anisley Torres, one of her students in the 1990s, highlighted her leading role in the preparation of the first Art History Manual in the 1930s.
Essayist Luisa Campuzano made a biographical sketch of Vicentina Antuña, especially of her vocation for public service and her contributions to the establishment of the José Martí People’s University and Lyceum (a women’s association) in the 1930s.
Literary critic Mayerín Bello recalled that Mirta Aguirre had taught several subjects at the School of Letters and had headed the Cuban Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Literature and Linguistics since 1976 to 1980, when she died.
At the event, tribute was also paid to María Luisa Dolz (1854-1928), who had pioneered non-sexist education at the turn of the 20th century, and to Dominican professors Eugenia M. de Hostos and Salomé Ureña.
The main topics that were discussed included education at convents, non-sexist education in Latin America, women’s education, etc.
The Women’s Chair has since 1994 been organizing annual meetings of a wide range of gender specialists.
The latest colloquium was attended by around 70 representatives of Canada, Italy, Mexico, the United States, Chile, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Cuba.
Translated by Adolfo Fuentes