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The triumph of the Revolution instigated thousands of transformations in social, political, and economic life in Cuba, made by and for Cuban women. Vilma Espin, leader in Cuba’s revolutionary struggle, founded and was President of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) in 1960. Today 4.2 million women and girls over 14 years old (92% of the female population) are members of the FMC. They join voluntarily to carry out community and municipality-based work.

The representatives that we spoke to were clear that discrimination by individuals still exists in Cuba. But unlike under capitalism the problems are cultural and social, not structural, and are being directly confronted by the socialist state and through Cuba’s mass democratic structures.

The Cuban Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX) was founded in 1989. Over the last ten years it has been pioneering the transformation of Cuban society in relation to LGBTQ+ rights. The centre has a multidisciplinary team with departments that carry out vital work in research, education and campaigning. Annually the centre has three national campaigns: on equal parenthood, action against homophobia and raising awareness of gender-based violence and human rights. Most recently both FMC and CENESEX played leading roles in the development of the exemplary Family Code adopted in 2022.

The US blockade is having an enormous impact in preventing access to vital medicines, supplies and medical equipment. Access to condoms is difficult, which has resulted in an increase in HIV positive cases. Despite challenges the Cuban state provides one of the best healthcare systems in the world. This includes comprehensive trans healthcare, which is free in Cuba and includes in-depth psychological and social preparation. Access to abortion is also free and a woman can visit a polyclinic within her community and request an abortion which can be carried out the following day. In Britain women can wait weeks, and be expected to pay to travel hundreds of miles, to have an abortion.

Ellie MacNamara

First published in FIGHT RACISM! FIGHT IMPERIALISM! 298 February/March 2024

Brigade to Cuba 2023/24
- Cuba resists - End the US blockade
- Cuba democracy in action
- Capitalism destroys lives
- Socialist Cuba advances womens’ and LGBT rights
- Cuban socialism a model for climate action
- Socialist healthcare leads the way