The Federation of Cuban Women:
Activism and Power
We will always strive to be worthy of Fidel's confidence, of the hopes he has placed in Cuban women, of his permanent encouragement and of his faith ... that women be a firm pillar of our Revolution.
FMC Draft Thesis ( March 1985) 1
I think women should be promoted more at the state and party level, I honestly do. It is our duty, our moral obligation, and all the more so when I think that our party is still largely a party of men, and our state is still largely a state of men.
Fidel Castro ( March 1980) 2
With its three million members, the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) might have been a formidable advocate for Cuban women. The FMC's principal task, however, was to defend a revolution whose interests were defined by a male elite. The FMC and Cuban women in general participated very little in the making of policies that governed their lives and the lives of their children and families. When it came to power, the ideas, perspectives, and experiences of Cuban women simply did not count.
This absence of women in positions of power raised fundamental questions about revolutionary Cuba's political culture and institutions. What were the structural paths to power and how did they function? What were the obstacles to women's advancement? How important was the attainment of high rank and national policy-making positions to the women of Cuba? How did the FMC fit within the Cuban system?
These questions are difficult to answer, precisely, because the revolution never created clearly understood channels of power. Much depended on the whims of Fidel Castro and on informal power brokering. For