Cuban Women Laud Their Gender Equality Ahead of Obama’s Visit

The Cuban Women’s Federation hopes that the first couple’s visit to Cuba will be an opportunity to show the gender equality achieved in Cuba.

The Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), a nongovernmental organization has responded to the visit of the United States’ first couple, President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, who plans to bring her “Let Girls Learn” initiative, which aims to “open the doors of education for girls around the world.” It is the first visit of a sitting U.S. president since Fidel Castro took power in 1959.

“One hundred percent of our girls attend schools … regardless of their skin color, if they have a disability, or are hospitalized,” the FMC said in a statement.

The organization promises that Cuba will receive the first couple with hospitality, and understands “that the visit is a part of the complex process of normalizing relations between our two governments,” expressing hopes that it will be “an opportunity to show them what we have achieved in terms of gender equality and the role that women have in the political, economic, cultural and social life in our country.”

The issue of human rights continues to be a hot-button topic in the discussions between Cuba and the U.S. The FMC hopes to counter charges from the U.S. that Cuba lags behind the rest of the world in terms of equality.

According to the statement, Cuban women receive “equal pay for work of equal value … nine of the 15 Cuban provinces are headed by a woman,” and that “the administration of justice is also mainly in female hands”.

A 2015 report by the World Economic Forum equally rated the U.S. and Cuba in terms of gender equality.

However, the American Association of University Women says that the gender pay gap, where women are paid 79 cents for every dollar men are paid, has “barely budged” in a decade, affects women in every state, is even worse for women of color, and if things continue at the current rate, it “won’t close for more than 100 years.”

The FMC also hopes that the visit will be an opportunity to “reiterate the demand of the cessation of the inhumane blockade” of Cuba, which has cost the Cuban economy US$117 billion since it began in 1960.

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