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Yolanda Ferrer Gómez
Cuban revolutionary leader, past general secretary of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) and deputy to the Cuban National Assembly
“The FMC was created to bring together all revolutionary Cuban women to work and fight for their country. We wanted to prepare them to participate actively and effectively in the economic, political, cultural, and social life of the country. This required many different programs, all of them urgently needed.
In those days, women were greatly limited by social norms. They were expected to restrict their interests to the confines of the home and to subordinate themselves to the males in the family. But there was enormous political ferment, and women felt they had to support and defend the revolution. These feelings were so strong they led women to break with traditions going back thousands of years.
Moreover, the examples of Vilma Espín, Celia Sánchez, Melba Hernández, and Haydée Santamaría-women who had fought in the underground struggle and then in the Rebel Army-were very important in this process.
Attacks by our enemy began immediately after the victory in January 1959. Women responded, making clear they weren’t going to allow their revolution to be snatched away. They requested emergency medical training, and the federation organized courses across the country. They joined the Revolutionary National Militia, established in October 1959. Ten of thousands of housewives and working women, who had never handled weapons or treated the wounded, decided to join in defending their country.”
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