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The electronic version of this document has been prepared at the Fourth World Conference on Women by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women Secretariat.
Respected Chen Muhua Comrade, President of this historic Conference, Ladies and Gentleman:
Since the United Nations declared 1975 as the "International Women's Year", at the request of the Women International Democratic Federation, a prestigious organization with consultive status in the United Nations, on behalf of millions of women around the world, it's already twenty years.
Mexico was the host country of the First World Conference for the advancement of women, addressing thoroughly fundamental issues with critical analysis of all the human endeavour, deepening the reality on the status of women, their need of taking a due place in society. Those who always imagined women as meek order-executives, weak and unable to develop their intelligence and role as leaders, were surprised and concerned by such excellent agreements, as well as the people's exploiters who were aware of the potentiality of this large force, which is half of the world population, eager of justice.
The participation of thousands of women from Non-Government Organizations joined this great meeting, strongly debating in the so- called Free Podium what was happening in the lives of women; unemployment, the hunger of their children without schools, without health-care services; the outrages, open injustices, tortures commited by military dictatorships were denounced, the constant violations of their rights in every corner of the world, the urgencies of doing away with the exploitation of women.
It was decided to declare the Decade 1975-1985 the Women's Decade to implement the adopted multiphacetical Plan for Action for the Advancement of women.
This promising plan was used by NGO as a tool to support their governments in implementing it, with the popular mass participation of women who needed those solutions and to demand their implementation from slack governments, institutions and backward sectors, which have always sought to keep women as a second-rate person, at best.
The United Nation's Secretary General decided to establish a group of advisers made up by 10 outstanding women from different continents The International Institute of Research and Training for the Promotion of Women was established in the Dominican Republic.
In 1979 the General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against women, being signed immediately by Cuba and later ratified. It is hard to believe that there are still countries that have not done so. The successful end of the decade was the magnificent meeting in Nairobi, where more than 12000 women, the majority from NGO throughly debated the most pressing problems and the perspectives for the end of the millennium, an excellent experience that repeats today with the attendance of over 30,000 women in Huairou.
The Nairobi Estrategies for the Advancement of Women, a magnificent compromising program for all governments, which is quite far from its implementation to most countries, are still the guide for action in implementing all what women need to take their place before the end of the millennium.
The Chapter of Human Rights was taken up again and Women's Rights were raised to the highest goals by every nation for their implementation.
The Women s Decade has been, indeed , a golden age of the United Nations that women will appreciate along history as the time in which we were able to make this Organization play its due role in pushing forward the goals pointed out by many women and illustrious men through history, in order to do justice to women and incorporate them, at all levels to the progress of humanity. We have worked hard. As an important result we must say that we were able to call the attention on women's issues, on the definition of gender, to join different professionals in the attempt to focus the reality on which women live... which destroys them, kills them.
Generally, women are brave and persistent: nourishing their children and making them grow healthy is an elemental aim, ancestral mandate to mother and father, law of nature that today is only being achieved by the minority of the world's families. Because if the living conditions of families being subject to debate in Nairobi were difficult and women's lives hard, what to say on this decade, in which over 1200 millions of people are living under the limits of poverty line, and most of them under extreme poverty, as a result of a greatly injust international economic order, a hideous neo-liberal policy excluding most of the planet's inhabitants from all human rights and the possibilities of development!
What to say about the so called "Femenization of Poverty Decade, because of women are the first to be fired even in developed countries and because they are, among the poor, the most exploited and discriminated. Every day we received news on the deterioration on the status of women, their families and the child:
Could facts worst than those and more aberrant occur? To what extend can the human debasement go? Till when will selfishness, unlimited profits and insatiable greed continue distroying killing, poisoning the environment, depleting natural resources, plundering countries, preventing the development of peoples, preventing lofly convinctions and goals find their way to peaceful and happy world?
Much has been said about distension ! According to experts, the huge resources devoted to weapon production and purchase, to the war, could be sufficient to feed all the inhabitants of the world, to build the necessary schools and hospitals for all.
Today, the war merchants continue to sell weapons encouraging blood conflicts and strifes with a high toll of children and women as victims.
And they are still dying, victims of this or other violences, hunger, poverty, unhealthy conditions, ... or of the nuclear war? What do mothers care on which they died! What they do care, what they want is not to have them dying, but make them grow industrious, proper and happy.
Ladies and gentlemen.
Thirty six years ago, the Cuban people conquered victory, after a century of struggles for their independence and sovereignty against the colonizers who exterminated the auctoctonous population, of the interventionists who sought to the take up our Island, of the dictators and governments in power under the disgraful servitude of transnational mandates impoverishing the country. Resolute and brave women patriots engaged in every necessary period of war for national liberation. When the people took power, women identified the starting revolution, as their own Revolution, which immediately established education and medical care services free for all without distinction, the land and urban reforms, measures of greatly popular benefits made it clear what the revolution intended to do, and therefore they embraced at once, participating intensively in all construction and defense works of the new society that opened its doors with all the rights and opportunities they never had before.
Feminine will created by the mass of women in their decision of not being behind nor only be beneficiary but also protagonist of all the work begun, made them constructor of schools, hospitals in rural areas that never existed before, day-care centers for working women, agents for change of the backward minds, educating, breaking stereotypes, bursting in the labor force, in all professions, without traditional prejudices.
Today more that 3 million and a half women which form part of the Federation of Cuban Women continue giving their voluntary work to all the necessary tasks for the advancement of plans for production of food, health, education with a great emphasis in social work directed to the family, to prepare both mother and father to increase more and more the quality of education of the new generation, to the programs to conscious maternity and paternity with adecuate premise in sex education in accordance to the age, based in the principles of full equality, full responsibility in sexual life with all the security to love, tenderness, mutual respect in the couple and sincerity.
In our Center for sex education in the preparation of programs and actions, the Federation of Cuban Women and the Ministries of Health and Education work together which allows to obtain the scientific knowledge through its systems and the availability to health services and sex education to the mass, through services and educative preventive means.
Our Government and the Cuban women support firmly the Agreements of E1 Cairo, its magnificent documents, wisely elaborated place as center of all subjects the rights for women and the reality that only guaranteeing attention, education and care for the health of girls and women and their right to decide on their own, about their body and the number of children they want to have will be possible to brake the excessive and irrational increase of the number of the inhabitants of the planet threatening the future of humanity. In Cuba the right of women to abortion permitted decrease the high rate of mortality in women that we found in 1959, caused by abortion made in bad conditions. Today we urge for the use of contraceptives, the risks of abortion are explained, which is only legal if is practiced in Health Institutions with all professional cares required.
As a result of the cultural and educational level reached in Cuba it has not been necessary to draw an explicit policy on population descending consequently, due to the decisions of the family, the rate of birth.
Since the first years of the Revolution the idea of integral health and reproductive rights adopted in Cuba, special attention is given, above all, to women's life and health, to fulfill within the scopes and levels, the development of its talent and creativity. Women is valued as an individual that has especially to do with all concerning family and society, this is why the Federation of Cuban Women participates actively in the preparation of fundamental laws especially in population policies.
Today women constitute 62% of the technicians of medium and superior levels, 57.7% of university students, 42% of scientific researchers, 40.6% of the country's labour and 23.7% of the members of Parliament. The life expectancy at birth reaches 77.6 years for women, in the average of 75.7 for the population, the infant mortality rate is kept below 10 per one thousand born alive.
Ladies and Gentleman:
The decision of our people to advance in the route elected exerting completely the independence and sovereignty conquered tries to be punished by the illegal and aggressive policy of the United States materialized 33 years ago in a harsh economic, financial and commercial blockade. This violent and constant genocide intent to render us by hunger and diseases, of closing the doors to all the possibilities of economic development to our country, constitutes a flagrant violation of the International Law that has been repeatedly condemned by almost the majority of the member countries of the United Nations.
The hardening of the blockade, as a consequence of the unipolarity of the present world create serious difficulties, the lack of supplies affects daily the life of women who nevertheless, maintain themselves working and struggling with infinite creativity to give solution to the problems.
In spite of the blockade attendance to school continues in 99% and the rates in health are maintained, we work firmly applying in the whole country new solutions and new ways to economic development, sustaining our permanent objective, the socialist character of our process which began 36 years ago, which keeps as center of its attention the human being.
This is the way our brothers from the Popular Republic of China, whose leaders, proclaiming the socialist objective of the revolution, knew how to direct the efforts of their people obtaining important economic growth which influences progressively a better quality of life for the population.
We deeply thank the Government and people of China for all the attention given and the wonderful performance expression of the mass participation of high cultural level given to us and the efforts made to guarantee the development of this great event.
Ladies and Gentleman:
We hope that this Conference will contribute to push even more the advancement for women, and of the people, to obtain real achievements in the path to equality, development and peace.
We are already reaching the year 2000. In the last two centuries, bursted in the huge development of science and technology, new doors have opened for the advance of the human condition, new concepts of brotherhood, and ideas to irradicate exploitation of man by man. It was thought that equality was emerging, that social justice would be achieve before the new millennium and the application of the intelligence cultivated in all the children to each of the objectives for development, would lead in short time to better conditions of life for all in the world.
In fact unemployment increased, and huge and tragic contrast sexist in the present world: while men and women have conquered the cosmos, many are still in slavery state, women and even children are kept on inhuman and humilianting conditions of slavery, of misery and dispair.
What to say when we make an analysis about the advancement of the condition of women and find out the unbelievable reality of a woman s wage below men's for equal work existing in developed countries, in many of which nor even the equality of laws have been promultated.
Is necessary that every child born has assured his bread, education, adequate living conditions to grow with dignity and equal opportunities for all, irrespective of color, national origin, culture or religion of his ancestors, the country of birth and sex. So that the cultural legacy of Humanity, which splendid men and women enriches in the field of science and technique, of this understanding above all of the valuable of each culture which flourished in the planet since the man raised above animals species when they discovered the worth of work, became inherited to all, to benefit all and disappear from the world selfishness, the unreasonable greed, which is today the cause of all the harm of Humanity.
It is necessary that the huge worth accumulated in the world be applied to solve the great problems of Humanity.
The rich wealth of intelligences, of wills unite in the urgent task to achieve a more just world where men and women could work, create families, see their children grow, without the cruel menaces that today endanger all that has been attained in the millennia marked by the creative trace of human being, for the well being of all in a very much promisory planet.
Thanks very much.