2 Siren Spring 2004
Drugs and Driving 5
You may be over the limit and
not even know it.
A charter of
FBU member Jo Winrow-Jones
on a place she will never forget. A seminar with two very special Cuban women speakers
has inspired a charter designed to aid Cuba’s defence
Kazakhstan 8 of its independence and right to self-determination
Lorene Fabian on the challenges
facing women trade unionists in
this former Soviet republic.
News in Brief 10 ON 13 September 2003, a delegation from tained us by singing a selection of “revo-
the Women’s Section of the Fire Brigades lutionary songs”.
Union, Dona Feltham ( National Women’s We found that Cuban Women start
Transsexualism Chair ), Jo Winrow-Jones (Merseyside) and the 21st Century showing undoubted
Janette Ferguson (Scotland) attended a achievements in the equality of rights
in Society 12 seminar held in London organised by the of opportunities in both the public and
A very brief introduction. women’s section of the Cuba Solidarity private ﬁelds.
Campaign [group]. Women have played important roles
Two very special guests were invited in the main changes that occurred in the
Daycare Trust 13 – Alicia Gonzalez Gutierrez, who attended economical, political and social life in
Kerry Baigent reports on a a FBU Conference several years ago and the country. At the same time, they have
campaign for quality affordable Isabel Moya Richard, who was in this been the main agents in the process of
childcare for all. country to carry out a series if visits around modifying the traditional roles assigned
England. and assumed by men and women. They
Other speakers included Dona Feltham have also been working in the process of
Sylvia Pankhurst 15 (FBU), Tanya Dominguez Rosas (Cuban building relationships based on equality
She led the battle for working Embassy), Elaine Smith (Scottish MP), and a full realisation and respect for those
women’s political franchise. Anita Halpin (TUC Women’s Committee), differences.
The campaign for Pankhurst’s Michelle Emerson (CWU) and Janet Ryder Women have been active social
ofﬁcial recognition continues. (AM). subjects in the most decisive changes in
The theme of the London seminar was the last four decades, either in their lives,
to allow the group who attended, the or in their thoughts and ideas.
opportunity to ask questions of Alicia and The theoretical and political concep-
Isabel about just what is happening in tion of the status of women as a funda-
Cuba and to ﬁnd out how we could help mental problem in Cuban society has been
the Federation of Cuban Women in the the starting point to begin the struggle for
work they do within their own country, as the full exercise of equality of rights and
they help to run the country as equals with opportunities for women. Thus, it has been
their male counterparts. included as one of the strategic objectives
There was a choice of workshops: 1. in the profound human project and of
Women’s Access to Civil Rights and Justice. social justice of the Cuban Revolution.
2. Women’s Role in the Revolution. 3. At present in Cuba, women represent
Women’s Representation and Women in 49.5% of all who graduated in higher
Politics. The day was ended in very good educ at ion and 62% of uni ver si t y
cheer for us by Lizzie Shirley who enter- students.
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Siren Spring 2004 3
Left to right: Alicia, Jo, Isobel, Janette and Dona
WOMEN’S ROLE IN it’s National Development Strategy. This with high levels of illiteracy, insalubrities
programme calls for the detailed and and corrupt Governments, into a society
THE REVOLUTION harmonious execution of economic and that shows higher indicators for the quality
WOMEN also constitute: social programmes, aimed at the creation of life compared to other Latin American
WORKERS 22% and development of economic, political, countries and which is comparable with
ideological, legal, educational, cultural many other developed countries. All of
and social bases to guarantee equality of these advancements have been achieved
rights, opportunities and possibilities for despite hostility from the most powerful
SERVICE 54% women and men, transforming the condi- empire on this planet.
MANAGERS 34% tions of discrimination and subordination
under which Cuban women had lived for WOMEN IN
The Cuban Socialist Government has centuries, and promoting the elimination
recognised that women were subjected of traditional sexual stereotypes and a new POLITICS
to different forms of oppression based on concept of women’s role in society and in THE economic, commercial and ﬁnancial
class, race and sex. The Government’s plan the family.”(National Plan of Action) blockade has cost the Cuban economy
for the advancement of women in Cuba Women now account for: the equivalent of more than 70 million US
started from this point and it launched PARLIAMENTARIANS 36% dollars. An aggressive policy encouraging
appropriate programmes , specific terrorism has provoked 3,478 deaths and
MEMBERS of the State Council 16%
measures and actions aimed at trans- injured more than two thousand people.
forming the status of women while ﬁnding MINISTERS 18% The US has tried, without success to
solutions to gender equalities in order to VICE-MINISTERS 23% prevent the Cuban people from building
achieve “a real culture of equality” ATTORNEYS 61% their own destiny.
“…the Cuban State, in accord with it’s JUDGES 49% Six out of every ten Cubans were born
programme of social justice, participa- or have lived under these conditions and as
JUDGES in the Supreme Court 47%
tory democracy and tenacious struggle a result have suffered materially, psycho-
to eliminate all forms of discrimination The profound revolutionary changes logically and spiritually. It has limited the
and oppression based on class, gender which have occurred in Cuba in the last 45 country’s economic and social develop-
or race, has since 1959 put into practice years have transformed it from a country ment.
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4 Siren Spring 2004
This policy violates the principles of all our publicity, including our website and cultural organisations to invite visiting
International Law and on several occasions produce a Women in Cuba pamphlet. C u b a n wo me n t o C S C o r g a nis e d
the General Assembly of the United 2. Explain the nature of democracy in meetings.
Nations has condemned it. Cuba, including the role of the FMC and 9. Develop our work and links with colleges
Cuban women denounce the USA the question of human rights for women. and young people.
economic, financial and commercial 3. Promote exchanges and visits for women 10. P r o m o t e C u b a n w o m e n o n
blockade against Cuba, the policy of between Cuba and UK, including Scotland, International Women’s Day, 8 March,
aggression and the media war intensiﬁed Wales and Northern Ireland. every year.
in the last year as the hardest violation of 4. Organise a women’s study tour to Cuba
The women of the “Red Rose Club”
their human rights. in liaison with the FMC.
(the Executive Committee of the women’s
So we asked ourselves, just what can 5. Encourage women in Trade Unions to
section of Cuba Solidarity) in London, who
we as women do to help the Cuban people communicate with and support women in
organised the seminar, declared the event
fight against the US blockade and also Cuba, e.g. by twinning.
the renewed and very real threat of an 6. Work with women MPs in England, a great success and have included the
American invasion of a free country which Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland to above charter in their annual work plan
quite frankly does not want nor needs to put pressure on the UK Government to and are now planning a Women’s Study
be invaded. oppose the US blockade and all aggression Tour in Cuba in 2004.
After lengthy debate we came up with against Cuba. To get in touch with the ‘Red Rose Club’
this charter to work from: 7. Build links with women’s organisations or Cuba Solidarity call 020 7263 6452 or
1. Increase information about the achieve- in Europe, MEP’S and European Cuba email ofﬁce@cuba-solidarity.org.uk.
ments of women in Cuba and the role of Solidarity organisations.
the FMC ( Federation of Cuban Women ) in 8. Liaise with the Cuban Embassy and Janette Ferguson is Siren Editor.
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