A couple of days ago, we told you about Sarah Stephens, Executive Director at the Center for
Democracy Dictatorships in the Americas, and her mystifying magic trick where she writes an entire report on women’s rights in Cuba without mentioning one single woman from the Ladies in White or any of the countless other women in Cuba’s opposition who have been harassed, beaten, violated, raped, and imprisoned. Considering the Castro dictatorship’s well documented, decades-long propensity for violence against women in Cuba, this was quite a feat of skill and expert sleight of hand by Ms. Stephens.
In Cuba, Equality Is Two-Sided
WASHINGTON — Just after Raúl Castro grabbed the world’s attention with his decision to step down from the presidency of Cuba when his term expires in 2018 — effectively ending the half-century Castro era — a new report on the status of Cuban women arrives to stir further debate in Washington’s policy circles, among conservative Cubans and among feminists.
Called “Women’s Work: Gender Equality in Cuba and the Role of Women Building Cuba’s Future,” the report credits the top leaders of the revolution, principally Fidel and Raúl Castro, with mandating and enforcing rules and laws guaranteeing gender equality and women’s rights, which have made Cuba among the highest-ranking nations in the advancement of women.
The study, released Monday, was written by Sarah Stephens, executive director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas, a Washington-based nonprofit that supports opening relations with Cuba and lifting the U.S. embargo. After a decade of research in Cuba on a number of economic and social issues, Ms. Stephens and her associates train their eyes on the progress women have made in four decades and examine whether it can be sustained.
In an interview at her office, Ms. Stephens said, “What I want to get at, what’s important, is that one of the great things in Cuba, part of the social project of the revolution, was equality, including equality for women — and that mattered.”
Yet, perhaps inevitably, this equality has a double edge.
“What I heard from a lot from women is that all of that is all well and good, but it’s no equality that was earned or achieved by women from the bottom up. It was something that was decided at the top and set into law,” she said.
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