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      Statement by the Federation of Cuban Women on Obama's Visit to Cuba

      With the hospitality and dignity that characterizes us Cuban women, just as all of our people, we will receive the President of the United States, Barack Obama, and his wife Michelle. We are aware that this visit is part of the complex process to normalize relations between our two governments. It will, therefore, be an opportunity to demonstrate what we have achieved in terms of gender equality and the leading role that women occupy in the political, economic, cultural and social life of our country.

      During their visit, they will note that we receive equal pay for equal work, that local governments in nine of the fifteen Cuban provinces are headed by women, that the administration of justice is also mostly in female hands. In each place they tour they will discover the selfless efforts of women of all generations.

      They will witness just how much we love our free and independent country, which we have defended from attacks of all kinds. With creativity and dedication, we have resisted more than half a century of economic, financial and commercial blockade, and we have built a society where human beings are the most important factor. We have educated our children in these values of solidarity, anti-imperialism and national sovereignty. We will never renounce such values.

      Gathered together in the Federation of Cuban Women, a non-governmental civil society organization - with consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) -, which today brings together more than 4 million Cuban women, about 90% of women over 14 years of age, we carry out specific programs to develop an entire culture of equality and social inclusion in our country. Many of the objectives outlined in Goal 5 of the recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, dedicated to achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls, are a reality in our country.

      We know that Michelle Obama is carrying out a major initiative called “Let Girls Learn”, with the aim of providing access to education to 62 million girls around the world. We offer our humble experience in this field, since one hundred percent of our girls attend school regardless of where they live, the color of their skin, whether they have a disability or are hospitalized. A Cuban, Leonela Relys Díaz, created the “Yes, I Can” method, with which millions of people worldwide have learned to read and write.

      Similarly, it will also be an opportunity to reiterate our demand to cease the inhuman policy of blockade against our country, which has led to multiple deprivations, and prevented us from further development.

      The Federation of Cuban Women also supports the statements of our government, which demands an end to the occupation of the territory of the Guantánamo naval base, the Cuban Adjustment Act and the “wet-foot-dry-foot” policy, and the elimination of interventionist programs aimed at provoking internal destabilization. These policies threaten the security and tranquility of our families.

      During the coming days, the words of the eternal President of our organization, Vilma Espín, are more relevant than ever for all FMC members: “Socialism for Cuban women means freedom, independence, sovereignty, dignity, social justice, security for the education and development of their children, the right to equality, to life, to decide their own destiny, to work for the future dreamed of and defended with all forces.”

      March 15, 2016

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