“It can be said, unequivocally, that if current trends continue, the interventions and actions we are undertaking will be far from enough to achieve a gender-equal planet by 2030.”
With this warning, Saadia Sánchez, Officer-in-Charge of the UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean and Director of the UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean, based in Kingston, opened the online meeting “Women entrepreneurs in Culture: Opportunities and challenges in the post-COVID-19 era”, organised by the Transcultura Programme: Integrating Cuba, the Caribbean and the European Union through Culture and Creativity.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, this Programme implemented by the UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean, funded by the European Union, brought together female artists from Cuba and the Dominican Republic with outstanding undertakings in the field of cultural and creative industries, in order to consider the challenges and opportunities the current pandemic poses, as well as their resilience strategies to face the challenges.
Participants agreed that COVID-19 has become an opportunity to find new ways of taking their creations to the public yet stressed the importance of not idealising a scenario where all inequalities, including gender inequalities, have deepened. Data from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), quoted by the UNESCO Director-General in her message on 8 March, show that job losses worldwide have affected 5% of women, as compared to 3.9% of men.
My life has been a challenge; my art is a challenge. I live in a constant challenge
Margaret Sosa, Dominican theatrical performer and poet
During the exchange, leading figures shared how they experienced resilience in the theatre, visual arts, literature, audiovisuals, music, silversmithing and the management of their entrepreneurships, and insisted on the weight women have carried in guaranteeing the continuity of cultural activity in times of pandemic.
We went from shock to action. Culture has been essential in these times because it is a necessity
Clara Morell, Dominican theatre and social activist
This need to go into action required to disregard known practices by deepening digital skills, seeking alliances with other creators, finding the added value of cultural products and a new language to connect with younger audiences.
They spoke of how, on many occasions, their creative processes had to be moved to the early morning hours, given the long daytime hours where unpaid work took up most of their day. Faced with this reality, women discovered a new motivation for doing away with gender stereotypes at home as well.
However, going against current trends implies crossing household boundaries. The panellists insisted on the need for all voices, partnerships and States to reconfigure relationships between humans, and with nature.
We cannot bring about a change on our own. It’s all about promoting another way of living
Marnia Briones, Cuban visual artist and permaculturist
In their daily work, these women are promoters of this change, as they have been leaders in the transformation of gender relations in their respective contexts, with the participation of both men and women.
In the words of Dr. Saadia Sánchez, this is a struggle in which it is essential to build new masculinities, new femininities, and to demand active and solid political action that embodies the transformative meaning of gender equality.
As a follow-up to the meeting, the Transcultura Programme will launch a communication campaign with the main ideas and proposals shared by the women entrepreneurs during the debate.