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  • Cuban national campaign Evoluciona

    Cuban national campaign Evoluciona | Photo: Centro Oscar Arnulfo Romero (OAR)

Published 6 June 2019

A Cuban initiative launched last year keep on working to inquire and remodel the beliefs that support violence against women.

A year after it was launched, the Cuban national campaign Evoluciona continues its efforts in questioning and to transforming the beliefs that support violence against women, according to members of the campaign who have spoken to the local Cuban outlet Cuba Informacion Tuesday. 

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Led by the center Oscar Arnulfo Romero in alliance with the Federation of Cuban women, the National Center of Sex Education and the center of Youth studies, the campaign seeks to influence young people into questioning norms created by the patriarchal ideology that place women at a disadvantage of power.

Street harassment and Naturalized acts of violence against women and girls as a result of norms of patriarchy have been the first step of this communication campaign which is already making mentalities change among the Cuban population.

A study presented by Oxfam last year “Breaking the mold: Changing belief systems and gender norms to eliminate violence against women” analyzed the beliefs of young people from eight Latin American and Caribbean countries about violence and partner relationships.

It indicated that distorted ideas about relationships lead young people to reproduce inequalities and to view control over women and situations of male violence as “normal”. Moreover, according to the study, 75 percent of young people aged 15 to 25 in Cuba accept street harassment and shout-out compliments to women as a natural thing

“The campaign Evoluciona wants people to feel this is a problem linked to patriarchy, that it can begin with a word and end badly. There are women who die because of it," says Tamara Roselló Reina, a member of the campaign’s team told Cuba Informacion. 

The most difficult thing, according to the coordinating team, is to influence the norms that sustain those acts, to achieve a favorable change and to be able to measure it.

To this end, specialists from various institutions and regions of the country who collaborate with the Evoluciona campaign participated in a workshop from 22 to 24 May in the Cuban capital of Havana.

"The meeting served, above all, to pilot tools and visions in order to build a framework for monitoring and evaluating the impacts of Evoluciona," said Yohanka Valdés, also a member of the campaign's coordinating team.

According to her, social networks have been an important space for interaction although the exchanges have mainly occurred with youth from 24 to 35 years and have been smaller with the target group of 18 to 24 years, for which the campaign was initially created.

Although women and men participate almost equally through networks, Valdés identifies greatest resistance among the latter group. "But the fact that they participate anyway indicates that they are interested in the topic," she said.

The challenges are not a few, according to communicator Roselló Reina. "To place change messages in a cultural matrix that has naturalized this imaginary and to speak it to young men is a greater challenge," she said.

Among the immediate steps, the campaign wants to expand its voice and identify sensitive men who would be more aware of their privileges and would want to collaborate, proposing real alternative masculinities. "So that it could be understood that it is possible to be a man from another logic", points out Roselló Reina.

Talking to young people, arguing, debating and understanding that relations can be free from traditional dictates, from patriarchal practices that disguise themselves as love, continue to be part of the work of Evoluciona, which seeks to break mental schemes that have remained immovable.

For Roselló Reina, these are new and necessary initiatives in the Cuban context, which is not exempt from the boom of the fundamentalisms brought in by some churches in Latin America.

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