Vilma Espin (1930-2007) PDF
Written by ZoneZero   

Vilma Espin, the wife of Cuba's acting leader Raul Castro and for years one of the most important women in Cuba, died last Monday, June 18 in Havana. She was 77. Espin fought alongside Fidel Castro during the Cuban revolution and married his brother Raul shortly after the revolution.

Espin's power base was the Federation of Cuban Women, which she founded in 1960 and fashioned into an important pillar of support for the communist government. She served as its president for four decades, with virtually every woman and adolescent girl on the island listed as members.



Vilma Espin


She was credited with improving the status of women in a society known for its history of machismo by articulating the need for a more equal environment between the sexes. She gave prominent voice to improvements in maternal and child health-care policies as well as the need for women to educate themselves.

She successfully lobbied for passage of the Cuban Family Code of 1975, which codified the duties of men to participate in household responsibilities, such as child raising.

"From the feminist perspective, she empowered women in a home to say to a husband, 'It's my national, patriotic duty to work, to volunteer in the community," said Ileana Fuentes, executive director of the Cuban Feminist Network, a Miami-based social-needs organization that tries to help women in Cuba. "Whether you are for or against Castro, that's an empowering tool for women."

Share This