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Participation: Essence of the Revolution
Excerpt from October 1987 interview
by Cuban Revolutionary leader Vilma Espín
When I talk about how the federation was created, I always emphasize that at the time we didn’t talk about women’s liberation. We didn’t talk about women’s emancipation, or the struggle for equality. We didn’t use those terms then. What we did talk about was participation. Women wanted to participate. This included women who had taken an active part in the struggle, who had been in the mountains. They, like other women across the country, wanted to help in this new stage that was dawning, which was a genuine revolution.
From the very beginning, the new laws made it clear to the mother, the housewife, the woman who had lost her children in the struggle, that this revolution was in her interests. It was in the interests of her children and her family.
Women had confidence in the revolution – because there was real proof, every day, that the revolution wasn’t just hot air, it wasn’t empty phrases of the kind people were used to hearing from politicians in the past. This was a genuine thing. And women wanted to be part of it, to do something. The more the revolutionary laws strengthened this conviction, the more women demanded a chance to contribute – and the more they saw how necessary their contribution was.
Sometimes I’m asked to give a one-word definition of the Cuban Revolution. I reply that it’s about participation – the participation of the entire people in everything. Together, the population went through difficult years. For women, this had an impact right from the beginning. They began to understand the point Lenin emphasized over and over – that for a revolution to move forward, to develop, women had to participate.
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