There is a need to formulate and implement comprehensive local development strategies to prevent women from migrating from rural to urban areas, experts believe.
«I was born and raised in El Roble, a community in the Sierra Maestra mountain range, 760 miles east of Havana. I got married and had my two daughters there, but it was really isolated and there was no regular water and power supply, Mysladys Duvergel (47) told SEMlac at her new house in San Juan, a neighborhood in Bayamo, the capital city in the province of Granma.
«I´ll never go back there; I got divorced and now have no relatives on the mountain,» she added.
«My only aunt passed away and my firstborn daughter (30) studied agronomy and lives in Havana with her husband. The other one (29) works at a tourist resort in central Cuba,» she stressed.
Duvergel and her daughters are part of the 859 people who moved from Bartolomé Masó municipality to Bayamo in the 2000-2009 period, researcher Yanel Pompa wrote in an article on domestic migration (www.eumed.net/rev/cccss/21/).
«Men tend to go to rural areas, while women usually move to cities, where there are better living and working conditions,» researcher Blanca Morejón indicated in an article on population dynamics.
Her findings have been corroborated by national surveys on domestic migration that have been conducted by the National Institute of Physical Planning (IPF), the Population and Development Study Center (CEDEM), and the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI).
They have also been corroborated by national population and housing censuses.
Most migrants move from the east, mainly Santiago de Cuba and Granma, to Havana or some central provinces.
Women currently account for 47 percent of residents in rural areas. They make their decision due to persistent difficulties in transportation, water and power supply, communications, recreation, healthcare, and others.
Luisa Íñiguez, a geographer specialized in population issues, highlighted the need to make a careful review of domestic migration flows.
Trinidad Sierra, a human development specialist and gender project coordinator at the Cuban Association for Animal Production (ACPA) in Granma, recalled that there are human settlements close to tourist resorts, but they continue to have no power supply or roads,» she noted.
In this regard, she mentioned the project Institutional strengthening for the implementation of a gender strategy at agricultural production cooperatives, which is being implemented by ACPA and Mundubat / ACSUR Las Segovias (NGOs), with funding from the Spanish International Development Cooperation Agency (AECID) and the Autonomous Community of Murcia.
«We promoted women’s empowerment under training and awareness-raising actions; there are now five women heading local governments,» she emphasized.
The Economic and Social Policy Guidelines, which were adopted at the 6th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) in 2011, give utmost priority to sustainable local development projects.
Sierra feels, however, that such projects should seek to meet community needs and promote further autonomy.