Image: Internet.

The game is locked.

Undoubtedly -in the lexicon of dominoes- the phrase could be a good metaphor for the current Cuban economic scenario.

The tablets of the agricultural markets or of sales of diverse products prove it, that have been adding zeros to their prices;

visitor arrival statistics;

the lines of the bus and the blows of energetic instability.

It is no secret that the country is experiencing one of the most serious economic crises in recent decades.

The aggravation of the economic blockade of the United States together with the Covid-19 pandemic led to the almost total closure of tourism - not for nothing called the locomotive of the economy - and have tripped up the process of economic order undertaken in the country;

Inflation has been one of the consequences with the greatest impact for everyday pockets.

But if it is difficult for all the actors – the new and the most traditional – that intervene in the economy, it is even more so for the women who try to break through at this unique domino table.

A look at the numbers

In 2018, the so-called gender gap in labor participation was estimated at around 27 percent, according to the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI).


the male economic activity rate was 76.9 percent, the female rate was barely 49.5 percent

, with an even more uneven situation in rural areas.

Inequities are also related to the distribution of employment and wages.

In that same year, the average monthly salary in the state sector was 777 pesos in national currency (about 32 dollars, according to one of the current exchange rates of one dollar for 24 pesos).

A look at more recent data on the evolution of the “younger” form of economic management can give other clues.

Since the government approved its creation in September 2021, micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) have expanded rapidly, with a predominance of private ones.

If the first 35 were approved in September 2021, by the end of 2022 there were already 6,273, according to data published by the Ministry of Economy and Planning (MEP) on its channel for new economic actors.

But according to a report by the MEP itself, more detailed and published at the end of the first half of last year,

of the 4,097 new economic actors approved up to that moment -most of them private MSMEs- only 23.3 percent of the partners were women.

And there are still figures and counts disaggregated by sex, skin color, different abilities or territory, which would put other elements on this complicated board.

A report by the AUGE Consulting firm, cited by the Latin American and Caribbean Women's News Service (SEMLac) this January, complements the official data and allows us to peek into those other intersections.

According to an investigation that involved a hundred MSMEs to which they provided advice,

of the 178 partners counted in the report, 66 percent were men and 34 percent women.

But in addition, AUGE confirmed a clear trend towards the majority presence of white-skinned men as members, aged between 30 and 55 years.

The gaps are also expressed in income.

In the case of the 52 MSMEs with more than one partner, where an unequal distribution of shares was defined, most of these corresponded to white-skinned men.

Economy through purple glasses

In the opinion of the economist Ileana Díaz, professor at the University of Havana and coordinator of its Entrepreneurship Network, what is happening with the gender distribution within the new forms of management was predictable, since in self-employment Just over 30 percent of their own was performed by women, but of that proportion a substantial part were contract workers, not business owners.

For her, an essential element of the disadvantages of women in the face of the new forms of management has to do with accumulated capital.

“They have less accumulated capital than men;

not only financial, but also social, relational, which prevents them from moving more easily in the business world”, explained this expert.

The aforementioned AUGE study confirms Díaz's concerns.

According to the consultant, the value of the capital stock most frequently declared by the companies studied at its creation was 100,000 Cuban pesos.

How many women have that money?

How many own a car or other marketable resource that they can sell to open a business?

On the other hand, women have less relational capital than men because they have basically worked in the public or state sector and almost always as civil servants or specialists and not in a management or decision-making position.

As if that were not enough, they have second and third working days, children or elderly people in charge, which forces them to go home early, so they cannot establish the type of relationships that men are used to after finishing " work” such as having a coffee or sharing a drink.

In these spaces, relational capital is also built in the opinion of Ileana Diaz.

Cuban society is better prepared than others to implement affirmative actions that favor access to economic spaces without discrimination, since the equality of people is a widespread value and verified in the laws.

But the tense economic situations of the last decades have made everyday family life very challenging and overloaded, especially for women.

Economic transformations need to be thought of, too, from a violet gaze.