A charter of solidarity

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					           2 Siren Spring 2004

            INSIDE                                 CUBA

             Drugs and Driving 5
             You may be over the limit and
             not even know it.
                                                  A charter of
             My Auschwitz
             Journey                          6
             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
        TECHNICIANS                         66%
                                                       and social bases to guarantee equality of     these advancements have been achieved
        ADMINISTRATORS                      87%
                                                       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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