Cuban women push to join open business, list obstacles

Havana-Cuba was an early leader who recognized women’s rights and equality after the Fidel Castro Revolution in 1959. Women were given power and responsibilities, and the government legalized abortion and established day care centers. These steps allowed women to join the workforce with men.


However, Cuban women who are seeking to participate in the island’s gradual opening to independent small businesses say they are facing unique challenges from a patriarchal society that favors men and men-owned businesses.

At a recent business fair for women entrepreneurs, Natalhie Fonseca, owner of Carrete, an online business that she started making and selling handmade decorations for children’s rooms, said that Cuban society’s expectation that they are also housewives hindered women.


Fonseca said that she wakes up at dawn, washes clothes, cooks, takes care of her two daughters, and cleans. In addition to doing her own accidents, she also works part-time in her husband’s coffee shop.

“Twenty-four times a day is not enough,” she exclaimed. “If we can help a little bit.”


AIynn Torres, a gender researcher at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, said that although Cuba “made huge leaps” in getting women into the labor market in the 1960s and 70s, its efforts had stalled.

She said that 60% of university graduates in Cuba are women, but most of them work in the lowest-paid sectors of the economy, such as education or social assistance. According to official data, Cuba’s economy is still dominated by state-owned enterprises, with women accounting for only one-third of self-employed workers, while they only account for more than 20% of SME owners.

Torres said: “Conscientious and systematic national action is not just words, it is absolutely necessary to ensure more women’s participation.”


She said that more credit should be provided to female business owners and more care should be taken for children, patients and the elderly. These responsibilities now mainly fall on Cuban women.

Due to low economic productivity and obstacles caused by the US embargo, the Cuban government has gradually opened up the private sector over the past decade.

Subsequently, President Raul Castro (Raul Castro) increased the license to open a private enterprise, legalized real estate transactions and the sale of unused land, and made credit more accessible, among other measures.


According to official statistics, there will be 602,000 self-employed Cubans in 2020, some of whom have already started their own businesses. Approximately 210,000 of them are women.

In September, the current president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, approved the establishment of private enterprises-something that was unthinkable after the authorities shut down all private enterprises on the island in 1968.

In the next five months, another 1,014 private companies obtained licenses, of which 22% were female companies.

However, Ena María Morales’s theory is put into practice, she wants to grow the plants her business needs to make all the organic handmade soaps. She said that male farmers resisted her efforts to obtain raw materials.

“That was my first confrontation with the masculine world,” she said, “…the men would say to me,’You have that long hair, no, no, no.'”

The COVID-19 pandemic has also hindered many women who wish to start their own businesses. Many people are struggling to find time to start a business because of school closures, husbands or partners going out to work, and children at home.

Ana Mae Inda, who sells children’s clothing, said: “Women’s gradual joining is a very new thing, and I hope this situation will really change soon, because although we are the directors of this company, there are still many women who have power. “.

Women of color say that race is another difficulty in doing business.

“Being a woman and black means that we face certain obstacles, not only in the social world, but also in the entrepreneurship itself,” Yurena Manfugás in the clothing store opened by her and her mother Deyni Terry to cater to Afro-Cubans Said. female.

Lawyer and women activist Terry said that the real problem is the social structure of Cuba.

“The Constitution of the Republic of Cuba continues to speak with masculinity. … We come from a culture that is completely sexist,” she said.

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Andrea Rodriguez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ARodriguezAP

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