January 18, 2022


Only The Finest Women

Cuban women cite gender challenges as they push to open businesses

Cuban women cite gender challenges as they push to open businesses

HAVANA — Cuba was an early leader in recognizing women’s legal rights and equality following Fidel Castro’s revolution in 1959. Females have been put in positions of electrical power and obligation, and the federal government legalized abortion and established day treatment centers, steps that allowed females to be a part of the workforce alongside adult men.

Nonetheless Cuban ladies who are in search of to consider component in the island’s gradual opening to impartial compact firms say they are experiencing exceptional issues set up by a patriarchal modern society that favors gentlemen and male-owned corporations.

At a recent enterprise expo for females entrepreneurs, Natalhie Fonseca, operator of Carrete, an on line enterprise she started off to make and promote handmade decorations for children’s rooms, claimed women of all ages are held back again by Cuban society’s expectations that they also be homemakers.

Fonseca claimed she rises at dawn, washes, cooks, takes care of her two ladies, cleans, and works component-time in her husband’s coffee store, in addition to performing on her very own organization.

“Twenty-4 in a working day are not plenty of,” she lamented. ”If we had a very little help.”

AIynn Torres, a researcher on gender troubles at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, reported that while Cuba “made a extremely massive leap” in the 1960s and ’70s in deliver ladies into the workforce, its initiatives have stagnated.

She explained 60% of Cuba’s college graduates are females, but they mostly conclude up in the the very least paid out economic sectors, these as education or social help. Ladies account for only a third of self-used workers in Cuba, whose financial system is even now largely point out-run businesses, and they make up just more than 20% of the house owners of modest- and medium-sizing corporations, in accordance to formal figures.

“Conscious and systematic state steps, not only terms, are absolutely important to ensure the bigger participation of women of all ages,” Torres said.

She reported there must be much more credit score out there for women of all ages enterprise entrepreneurs and far more carried out to treatment for children, the ill and the elderly, which are responsibilities that now fall primarily on Cuba’s gals.

Battered by reduced financial productivity as perfectly as the obstacles offered by the U.S. embargo, Cuba’s authorities a gradual opening of the personal sector all through the previous ten years.

Then President Raul Castro added licenses to open private firms, legalized actual estate transactions and the sale of unused land, and manufactured credit rating additional accessible, between other steps.

In accordance to formal figures, in 2020 there have been 602,000 self-employed Cubans, some of whom have started off their personal organizations. About 210,000 of them had been gals.

In September, existing President Miguel Díaz-Canel accredited the creation of privately owned organizations — some thing that was at the time inconceivable following authorities closed all privately owned business enterprise on the island in 1968.

In the five months given that, licenses have been granted for 1,014 additional non-public corporations, 22% of them for girls.

But theory ran into apply for Ena María Morales, who preferred to improve plants required for her business enterprise to make all organic and natural handmade soaps. She said male farmers resisted her attempts to get the raw elements.

“That was my first confrontation with a macho globe,” she reported. ”… The adult men would say to me, ‘You with that very long hair, no, no, no.’”

Ena MarÌa Morales sells handmade bags, bound paper and organic cleaning soap less than her brand name “Selva,” or Forest, at a reasonable of products produced by gals-led enterprises in Havana, Cuba, on Dec. 11, 2021.Ismael Francisco / AP

The Covid-19 pandemic also has been an impediment for many girls hoping to begin their possess corporations. With their children at household since of cancelled universities and husbands or associates marching off to perform, a lot of struggled to find time for entrepreneurship.

“It is a extremely new thing that girls are becoming a member of little by minor and I hope that quickly that will really adjust, since despite the fact that we are the directors of the home, there are quite a few empowered women of all ages,” said Ana Mae Inda, who sells children’s outfits.

Girls of shade reported race is yet yet another trouble in opening up organizations.

“Being a woman and currently being Black means that we facial area particular obstacles, not only in the social earth but also in the entrepreneurship by itself,” said Yurena Manfugás at the clothes shop she opened with her mom, Deyni Terry, to cater to Afro-Cuban gals.

Terry, a lawyer and women’s activist, explained the authentic issue is Cuba’s social assemble.

“The constitution of the Republic of Cuba continues to speak in the masculine. … We come from a thoroughly sexist culture,” she stated.

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