Cuban activists demand comprehensive law on gender-based violence

North America
call for action

Executive Summary

In response to the alarming numbers of femicides in Cuba, activists and civil organizations have worked tirelessly to invoke social change around the criminalization of gender-based violence. The Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights draws attention to the remarkable activism of 40 women who submitted a petition to Cuba’s National Assembly. This petition called on the government to enact legislation that criminalizes gender-based violence. As a result of the work of Cuban activists, the Cuban government issued the Presidential Decree 197/2021, on International Women’s Day in 2021, which established the National Program for the Advancement of Women. The article concludes that the work of these activists and the government’s response can be used as a first step toward creating a comprehensive law on gender-based violence that will develop and advance gender equality in Cuba

External Authors

Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights

Cuban Activist's Demands

The key points that the 40 women representing independent civil society advocated for in their petition to Cuba’s National Assembly in November 2019 are:

  1. According to article 43 of Cuba’s new constitution, the state is required to create institutional and legal procedures to safeguard women from gender-based violence. 
  2. According to research, intimate partner violence is a problem for women across the country, and the majority of survivors do not seek justice or support from the government. 
  3. According to Cuba’s National Report on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda, femicides were formally acknowledged as an official category of documentation and analysis. 

In response, the Cuban National Assembly stated that a law that criminalizes gender-based violence would not be included in the next legislative agenda. Despite this inaction, Cuban activists and civil organizations have worked tirelessly to make violence against a national and international priority, and they will continue to fight to establish a comprehensive law against gender-based violence.


“Cuba must also formally recognize and criminalize all forms of violence against women. The end of impunity for these violations is a critical step to advancing women’s well-being”



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