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9194 - Democracia y Género en El Salvador

This article examines the Cuban record concerning gender equality in political decision-making. I begin with a brief overview of changes in gender relations since 1959. I then examine the gender composition of the country’s legislative structures, discuss efforts to strengthen women’s political participation, and compare the inclusion of women into key state and party decision-making bodies. The article is guided by three main arguments: First, in Cuba’s legislative structures women have a greater presence at the national than at the local level contrary to the experience of the United States and Western Europe. Second, despite the official position denying the existence of gender quotas, Cuba does implement measures of positive discrimination in order to strengthen women’s presence in politics. I argue that the current policy of correcting gender imbalances behind the scenes when it is considered appropriate by the leadership, disempowers those sectors of civil society that are advocating greater gender equality. Finally, Cuban women face a glass ceiling as they move up to positions of greater decision-making power, a reality faced by women all over the world. The excellent gender composition of Cuba’s parliament is an apparent exception that confirms the following rule: the state of gender equality in Cuba’s decision-making structures reveals an inverse relationship between the actual decision-making power of a particular institution and the presence of women. That is, the higher we get in the institutional decision-making hierarchy, the fewer women we find. The evidence presented in this article demonstrates that Cuba has not made as much progress in achieving gender equality in political decision-making as some of the official data would indicate, and that women continue to be largely excluded from the most important decision-making bodies.

Keywords: Cuba, Left, Gender Equality

Author: Luciak, Ilja (Virginia Tech, Ud States of Am / USA)

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