Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Feminine creativity in the face of natural disasters in Cuba

Ivet González in IPS: Blanca Lima raises all her appliances above flood level, puts boxes of clothes on top of wardrobes, and fills the shelves she installed near the ceiling with all kinds of objects. In less than an hour, she is ready to evacuate her home in case of a flood in the Cuban capital.

“When they announce that there will be a high sea and flooding, I already know where I’m going to put the refrigerator and set up a platform to raise the mattresses. I have weathered so many floods that I now have a whole system for dealing with them,” Lima told IPS.

In their homes, Cuban women come up with strategies to minimise the danger and losses during natural disasters like hurricanes. Gender expert Isabel Moya says women have special talents in terms of organising and empowering their communities during extreme events.

“The strengths of women have helped transform traditional practices and dynamics, in environmental protection and risk management, for example,” Moya told IPS. She advocates the recognition not only of the double workday of women, their jobs and household responsibilities, but of a triple workday, which includes their work in the community.

According to Moya, girls are educated in “the culture of care, a capacity that is later transformed into strong neighbourhood involvement by women. “They relate to each other and establish solidarity among themselves in a different way. These skills can generate a change in community ties,” she said....

A street in old Havana, shot by Angelo Lucia, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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