Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA) in History

Department

History

Abstract

Women in Cuba endured centuries of gender inequality in a nation known for its history of machismo, male domination. Cuban women expressed a desire to improve their status since 1898, when Cuba was granted its independence from Spain, and again in 1930 when a new women’s movement mobilized itself in Cuba. But only with the revolutionary regime founded by Fidel Castro in 1959 could women like Celia Sánchez, Vilma Espín, and Haydee Santamaría not only continue to advocate women’s suffrage but also pursue equality with Cuban men in the public and private sphere. This thesis examines the development of the women’s movement in Revolutionary Cuba following the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista in 1959, and assesses how revolutionary women fashioned a new identity and new gender roles for themselves thereafter. Moreover, the thesis analyzes how the women’s movement was aided by a communist state that forwarded women-friendly rhetoric and legislation but was also hindered by ingrained ideas about gender and the woman’s place in society.

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