There are no purple billboards on city streets, and no public service announcements on television to mark the date. But many different voices in Cuba remember that this year marks the centennial of the birth of the local feminist movement, a platform for fighting for equality and against gender-based violence.
Oasis Nelva is a refreshing green space in the midst of the grey asphalt landscape of Old Havana. The ornamental plant shop is also one of only a handful of eco-friendly initiatives among the upsurge of private small businesses in Cuba.
Learning about respect in a relationship, sexual orientation, sexuality, gender equality and family planning forms part of the right to sex education that is still not enjoyed by all children and adolescents in Latin America.
Sandra Ribalta is no longer satisfied with getting more and more people involved in the task of greening the neighbourhood of Las Cañas in the Cuban capital. She is now working to raise awareness of "climate change, as the key reason for reforestation."
Her voice is calm. She no longer has any question that her “destiny” is to live outside of Cuba. “My father is getting older every day. It’s time for me to help him,” the 27-year-old woman tells IPS, commenting on her plans to emigrate and become her family’s provider.
Only 3.8 percent of the electric power generated in 2011 in Cuba came from renewable sources, compared to 18 percent in 1979 – a retreat that alarms experts, who fear for the system’s sustainability.
“We have to expand the sense of urgency and indignation towards gender violence,” Dr. Ana Güezmes, UN-Women regional director for Mexico, Central America, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, told IPS on a recent visit to the Cuban capital.
“The most important thing for Cubans is their home,” says Raimundo Pérez, a real estate broker who is familiar with the travails of finding housing, despite the latest incentives made available by the Cuban government.
His carpenter’s certificate has made Antonio Tejero into a passionate champion of the trades, because, he says, he works “directly for society.” That attitude is in line with the government’s plan to train more technicians and skilled workers to give a boost to the economy.
Beatriz Lemes took her time deciding, and finally agreed “apprehensively” to take the job of heading a state-run company that is making the transition to financial autonomy, a system that is spreading throughout Cuba and is testing women’s capacities, among other things.
Blanca Lima raises all her appliances above flood level, puts boxes of clothes on top of wardrobes, and fills the shelves she installed near the ceiling with all kinds of objects. In less than an hour, she is ready to evacuate her home in case of a flood in the Cuban capital.
Enrolment in Cuban universities fell by 25.8 percent during the past school year, as young people are being oriented toward fields with more employment opportunities, such as agriculture, in the context of sweeping economic reforms that are also affecting public education.
On discussion panels, by email and in the blogosphere, Cuban intellectuals are speaking out to bring a critical perspective and propose roads forward to national development. And they increasingly seem to be including the transformation of public space as one of their goals.
Cabbage, broccoli, carrots, onions and other resistant vegetables are being grown by researchers in Cuba, who for decades have been working to design plants adapted to the tropical conditions in the Caribbean region.
In the face of the challenge of producing more food in a changing climate, farmers in Cuba are coming up with alternatives like planting drought-resistant crops and digging ponds to guarantee water supplies, in order to keep food on the table during times of drought, heavy rains or hurricanes.