Vilma Lucila Espín Guillois (7 April 1930 – 18 June 2007) was a Cuban revolutionary, feminist, and chemical engineer. She helped supply and organize the 26th of July Movement as an underground spy, and took an active role in many branches of the Cuban government from the conclusion of the revolution to her death. As an adamant feminist, Espín helped found the Federation of Cuban Women and promoted equal rights for Cuban women in all spheres of life.
Report to Congress (November 1974)
Translated from Spanish for the book, Women and the Cuban Revolution: Speeches and Documents by Fidel Castro, Vilma Espin, and Others edited by Elizabeth Stone
- When the revolution came to power there were tens of thousands of prostitutes, hundreds of thousands of illiterate women, 70,000 domestic servants. Gambling was a big business, vice and corruption were encouraged, and the population was denied its most elementary rights: access to education, to medical care, to hospitals, to recreation. All that was reserved for the privileged classes alone.
- What did the triumphant revolution offer our women? A new life, filled with possibilities and prospects, in which their deepest dreams might become reality. A society in which that which is most precious to us all-our children's future-would be assured. A different society, where the people would be masters and mistresses of their own destiny, where they would exert their rights fully, where new values would come into being. The triumph offered our women the opportunity to study and to work, it offered them economic security, thereby putting an end to oppression and hardship. It opened prospects of health care, of social security. For women, the revolution meant the opportunity to attain human dignity.
- We had to change women's mentality-accustomed as they were to playing a secondary role in society. Our women had endured years of discrimination. We had to show her her own possibilities, her ability to do all kinds of work. We had to make her feel the urgent needs of our revolution in the construction of a new life. We had to change both woman's image of herself and society's image of women.
- Voluntary work was beginning to fulfill its purpose: opening new horizons for women, showing them it was possible to take part, creating a new consciousness.