INDIA. MUMBAI: Ms. Malena Rojas Medina, the new diplomat at the Cuban Embassy in India, recently visited the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), a women’s organization in Mumbai, and interacted on wide-ranging issues of gender and women’s movement in both countries.
It was a friendly visit reflecting the long years of solidarity and fraternity between the Cuban people and progressive activists in India. Ms. Medina is in charge of the Press and Cultural Affairs of the embassy in New Delhi.
AIDWA General Secretary Mariam Dhawale and other office bearers- S Punyavathi, Asha Sharma, Maimoona Mollah, Archana Prasad, Sarbani Sarkar, and Ranjini Basu interacted with visiting diplomat. In the meeting, the role of women in the Cuban Revolution was fondly remembered, along with sharing AIDWA’s struggles against gender violence and discrimination.
Speaking to the Transcontinental Times, Mariam Dhawale said that Ms. Medina gave them fascinating information about available facilities to women in Cuba. She spoke about the institutional support that the Cuban women are provided in public child-care facilities; they are given paid maternity leaves, accessible and round-the-clock public transport is made available to them, and are provided a robust redressal system for cases of domestic violence.
The working women are provided an exceptional crèche service from 7 am to 8 pm to take care of their children. The children are offered free education, food, and medicare. There is 100 percent women’s literacy in Cuba, and they are well advanced and hold essential positions like doctors, lawyers and some of them are also entrepreneurs.
Ms. Medina highlighted the exemplary role of Cuban women during the pandemic. Women have been in the frontline, including science, to develop indigenous Covid vaccines. Cuba has invented four vaccines, and although the pandemic hardly affected the country, the government has ensured 100 percent Covid vaccination.
There is no unemployment in Cuba. The people are given special training to work on different projects and are absorbed in government service. Ms. Medina was surprised when asked whether any unemployment allowance is paid to the unemployed people in Cuba.
Ms. Medina expressed a desire to initiate specific measures to strengthen Cuba and AIDWA through a series of cultural and other activities. There are plans to showcase Cuban documentaries and films portraying women. Cuba has a vast collection of pre and post-revolution books and movies, which it would like to share with India.
During 1953-1956, Fidel Castro and his fellow revolutionaries led an armed revolt against the military dictatorship of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista.
In another development, AIFAWH has begun a district-wise agitation to demand settlement of demands of Anganwadi workers, including a hike in remuneration, monthly pension, and supply of new mobiles, etc. The rage will be on till March 07. Besides, a vast morcha will be organized at Azad Maidan in South Mumbai on March 09 to coincide with the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly’s budget session, Shubha Shamim, Vice-President, All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH) said. AIFAWH is an affiliate of AIDWA.
Anganwadis are India’s rural child care centers. The Union government established them in 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services program to combat child hunger and malnutrition. Anganwadi means “courtyard shelter.” There are approximately 13 lakh Anganwadi workers in India. Over one lakh of these Anganwadi workers are in Maharashtra. However, the remuneration paid to these workers varies from state to state.
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