Prior to the Cuban Revolution of 1959, Cuban women were denied any kind of education and job opportunities were non-existent. Women were expected to remain at home to carry out the duties of a wife and mother, such as household chores and bringing up children.
Since the Revolution, following the establishment of The Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) by Fidel Castro in 1960, women were brought out of the home and into the economy.
Women in Cuban Society suddenly found themselves guaranteed the same opportunities and human rights as men, and were subsequently encouraged to fully participate in the development of the country. The advancement of women in Cuba in all areas of economic, political, cultural and social standing has significantly increased since the FMC came about.
The FMC declared that Cuban women were allowed to vote, work outside of the home, receive free education and earn the same pay rates as men for equal work. This far surpassed the entitlements of women in other Latin American countries. Other legislation laid out by the FMC stated that discrimination based on an individual’s sex was to be forbidden by law and that state benefits such as holiday pay, pension schemes, maternity leave and health care were to be awarded to women.
From 1990 onward, Cuban women had managed to step to the forefront of Cuban society, and the number of women working within the technical and professional fields greatly increased from 17% in 1956 to 44% in 1996. According to statistics, Cuban women now hold 35% of parliamentary seats in the Cuban National Assembly, 62% are educated at university level, 20% of the Cuban armed forces are women, and 61% of practicing attorneys are women. Many women also serve as mayors, judges and Supreme Court judges, making respectable and authoritative positions available to both sexes.
Having advanced such a long way in recent decades, women are now viewed as valuable additions to Cuban society. Having defeated preconceptions that they cannot become revolutionary leaders, Cuban feminist movements have recognized that it is extremely important to continue to change the stereotypical view of women as merely homemakers, and to prove that women have much more to offer society as a whole.