Women’s Studies in
One of the priorities of more than a
few institutions and research centers in Cuba has
been to promote the dissemination of studies about
women. Taking these debates beyond the walls of
academia is fundamental to communication in a world
which must become increasingly inclusive.
great challenge – what feminism really
aspires to – is to see a world for human
beings, with recognition of diversity,"
Dr. Moya asserted.
Dr. Isabel Moya Richard, president
of the José Martí International Journalism
Institute’s Gender and Communication Studies faculty,
shared her opinions on the subject.
How are Gender Studies faring in
Cuba at this time?
I think this is a very good time
because reflection has begun to develop from within.
The creation of 33 Women’s Studies faculties, the
existence of a Gender Studies Masters program and
the Federation of Cuban Women’s Center for Studies
of Women, have been developing knowledge through
investigations which allow for our own analysis of
the Cuban reality.
Also beginning to be noted is an
incipient bibliography, making available the
thinking of Cuban researchers on these issues. On
some questions we are even fairly advanced, such as
in the study of masculinities.
How has the post-graduate course
Gender and Communication contributed to better
understanding of the issues?
The course emerged in 2002 and was a
result, in the first place, of the sensitivity of
Guillermo Cabrera, director of the Institute at that
time, which hosted the Gender and Communication
faculty. We began with smaller efforts. Later we
were able to develop this course, from which more
than 200 persons from Latin America and Spain have
graduated, allowing for the development of other
workshops and seminars. The course is one of the
many activities we carry out.
Why do so few men care for their
children from the age of six months to a
year, when they have the same benefits?
Women function in a world in which
the male point of view predominates in social
relations. How will the moment arrive when a female
point of view exists as well?
The problem is not to propose a
world from the masculine or feminine point of view.
The great challenge – what feminism really aspires
to – is to see a world for human beings, with
recognition of diversity, of the multiple ways that
being a man or a women can be structured.
I believe that the obligatory
mandates, about what it means to be a woman or a man,
are the big problem of contemporary society. In
practice, we see that there are different ways to
assume it [gender identity]. These approaches must
be developed based on the opportunities, the
interests, the desires of people, not by strict
cultural mandates. Therein lies the importance of
the media providing debate of these issues.
At times, the efforts of the media
are very simplistic. It is either a superwoman who
is practically impossible to emulate, doesn’t
provide an example to anyone because she doesn’t
have her own life, or the model of a woman who must
renounce having a family to be successful, or on the
other hand, maternity as something obligatory and
forced. These frameworks don’t lead anywhere.
What responsibility do media
Cuba has the second greatest number of
female parliamentarians in the world.
I think they must present this
reality as a problem. On certain dates we interview
magnificent, marvelous, self-sacrificing women, but
the way maternity is experienced is not presented as
a problem. Why do so few men care for their children
from the age of six months to a year, when they have
the same benefits?
Women, unfortunately, can also be
machistas, because this is an ideology present
in society. We have been educated this way.
At times, it is believed that, given
the accomplishments Cuban women have achieved in
public life, equality has been achieved. We have
advanced a great deal in political participation. As
a country, we have the second greatest number of
female parliamentarians in the world, but there is a
cultural challenge which is much more difficult to
overcome. There is an extensive cultural scaffolding,
which permeates everything from the home to the mass
media, continuing to shape us in the traditional way.
That is why it is important to present as a problem
the specific case of Cuba, where so much has been
accomplished and there are problems which other
countries don’t have.