Revolutionizing gender: Mariela Castro MS, director, National Sex Education Center, Cuba. Interview by Gail Reed.

Published: April 19, 2012

Abstract

Medicine, social conditions, culture and politics are inextricably bound as determinants of health and wellbeing. In Cuba, perhaps this is nowhere more evident than in the arduous struggle to consider non-discriminatory analysis of gender-sensitive components as fundamental to population health, medical practice and research; national policy; and above all, public consciousness. Among the standard-bearers of this cause is Mariela Castro, psychologist and educator with a master’s degree in sexuality, who directs the National Sex Education Center (CENESEX), its journal Sexologia y Sociedad, and the National Commission for Comprehensive Attention to Transsexual People. The Center’s work is at the vortex of national polemics on sexuality, approaches to sex education and health, and respect for the human rights of people of differing sexual orientations and gender identities. The daughter of President Raúl Castro and the late Vilma Espín–who, as founder and leader of the Federation of Cuban Women, pioneered the defense of both women and homosexuals–Mariela Castro nevertheless speaks with her own voice in national as well as international debates. MEDICC Review talked with her about the range of issues that link gender to WHO’s broad definition of health as the highest level of physical and mental wellbeing.

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