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6 Jan 2022

NBC News

Cuba: Women face inequality and discrimination when joining open businesses

Somos Cubanos

"Cuban women cite gender challenges as they push to open businesses", 06 January 2022

...Cuban women who are seeking to take part in the island’s gradual opening to independent small businesses say they are facing unique challenges put up by a patriarchal society that favors men and male-owned businesses.

At a recent business expo for women entrepreneurs, Natalhie Fonseca, owner of Carrete, an online enterprise...[,]...said she rises at dawn, washes, cooks, takes care of her two girls, cleans, and works part-time in her husband’s coffee shop, in addition to working on her own business.

...60% of Cuba’s university graduates are women, but they mostly end up in the least paid economic sectors, such as education or social assistance. Women account for only a third of self-employed workers in Cuba, whose economy is still largely state-run businesses, and they make up just over 20% of the owners of small- and medium-size businesses, according to official figures.

“Conscious and systematic state actions, not only words, are absolutely essential to ensure the greater participation of women"...

In September, current President Miguel Díaz-Canel approved the creation of privately owned businesses — something that was once inconceivable after authorities closed all privately owned business on the island in 1968.

In the five months since, licenses have been granted for 1,014 additional private businesses, 22% of them for women...

The Covid-19 pandemic also has been an impediment for many women hoping to start their own businesses. With their children at home because of cancelled schools and husbands or partners marching off to work, many struggled to find time for entrepreneurship...

Women of color said race is yet another difficulty in opening up businesses...