Making Social Revolution: The
Federation of Cuban Women
This unification of all sectors of women within the revolution constitutes a force, an enthusiastic force, a force in numbers, a large force and a decisive force for the revolution.
Fidel Castro ( 1960)1
The basic function of the Federation of Cuban Women is to incorporate women into the construction of socialism, elevating the general political, cultural, and technical level of the nation. All of the FMC's activities are designed precisely to mobilize women, organize them, and improve their condition.
Vilma Espín ( 1971)2
It was [ Fidel Castro] who pointed out the tasks our women's organization would undertake and outlined its objectives. . . .
Vilma Espín ( 1975)3
The first months of 1959 gave no hint of the changes in store for Cuban women. In Havana the revolutionary army crowned its carnival queen as "the Queen of Liberty" in the salon of mirrors at City Hall. The French film Be Beautiful and Keep Quiet was playing at the Arenal theater on La Rampa. Lingerie ads flitted seductively through the pages of the newspaper Revolución. Nevertheless change was coming. Women's support for the insurrection had been critical to the defeat of the dictator; it would now be equally important for the survival of the new regime.
The government sought first to unify the various women's groups into a single organization, the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), which would eventually become the largest women's organization in the history of Latin America. The FMC would extend women's traditional caretak-