This past summer ofI had the opportunity to travel to Cuba with fellow students and faculty members of Southern Illinois University. Due to the U. Southern Illinois University holds an academic that permits SIU students and faculty to travel to Cuba for academic purposes.
In addition, there are some expectations where travelers must have a schedule of activities planned out, and then retain documents proving how they spent their time. Prior to our departure we were given a pre-approved itinerary that we were compelled to follow while in Cuba.
In preparation for our trip, we read books about Cuba, participated in oral presentations, engaged in class discussions, and were visited by guest lectures that heightened our awareness of things to expect and challenged our minds on certain preconceived notions during our time in Cuba. Much like what would regulate a majority of our conversations whilst in Cuba, this legal globalization class taught by SIU Law Professor Cindy Buys, offered a particular focus on the changing legal and business environment in Cuba.
In light of the restoration of ties between the United States and Cuba, and the possibility of normalizing a hostile relationship of isolation that has existed for over five decades, our trip became more than a chance to tour Cuba.
For me specifically I was part of a group of Americans who had the chance to listen and learn from the perspective of the Cuban people about how the embargo has affected their lives. We met with other Cuban government officials, law students and faculty from the University of Havana, and other businesspersons in Cuba.
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We engaged in cultural activities such as walking tours through historic Old Havana, visited La Floridita where Hemingway used to frequent, and explored the coffee and cigar plantations that Cuba is known for. When we discussed the normalization of U. However, I grasped their deep desires to have the embargo fully lifted.
They would consistently hint that in order to progress as a nation, they needed to revitalize economic ties with the United States. I must say, that of all the Cubans we met, I was most impressed by the women. These women were strong and their presence was commanding.
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I acknowledge such things because I feel that in order to continue to appreciate the adversities and advancements of women in demanding positions such as the attorneys and the judges within the WBAI, it pays dividends to gain an external perspective from organizations that also share the mission of the advancement of women.
Although my encounter with these women and their organization was not the focal point of my trip to Cuba, meeting the FMC and others active in the fight for gender equality were moments that most resonated with me.
Currently, there are six main statutes that regulate the U. The FMC has advanced their main objectives through the mass education of women, integrating women in to various positions within the workforce, and encouraging both legislative and social change to achieve gender equality. According to the online world atlas, Cuba ranks amongst one of the highest countries in terms of literacy rates. The women that spoke to us credited their success and efforts to the force of the Revolution, which allowed them to inform women that they must liberate themselves.
Regardless of the unpopular communist government led by Castro, the support of a system towards the advancement of a marginalized group, specifically women, allows for the development of societal balance and equality. Some have questioned statistics such as the high of women in the Cuban parliament as merely a s game, inquiring whether or not women are actually empowered.
Although I cannot offer a knowledgeable reply to such inquiries, I can say that the FMC is an example of how when women, in any culture come together in an organized manner for the advancement of other woman, the benefits to societal progression becomes evident. This article originally appeared in the Fall Newsletter. Originally from Maryland, she completed her undergraduate studies at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
Judge Jessica A. Mariam can be reached at mansara1 siu. Member. By Mariam Mansaray How my trip to Cuba began.
Activities in Cuba. The Current State of the Embargo. Women's Bar Association Of Illinois. Plymouth Court Chicago, IL