Montana State University

MSU to host March 30 panel discussion on gender equity and status of women in Cuba and US

March 3, 2011

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Scholars and activists from Cuba and the United States will participate in a panel discussion on existing and emerging issues for women and families in the two countries and other parts of Latin America at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30, in the Procrastinator Theater at Montana State University. A reception hosted in Leigh Lounge by the MSU President's Office will follow the panel. The event is free and open to the public.

The panel discussion is organized in conjunction with the "Maestra/Teacher" Literacy U.S. Film and Speaking Tour. "Maestra" is a 30-minute documentary by filmmaker Catherine Murphy that will be shown in Bozeman at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 28, in the MSU Strand Union Ballrooms in a companion event sponsored by the MSU Leadership Institute. For more information on that event, see:

The film tells the stories of young female literacy workers who went to the mountains and valleys across the island of Cuba to teach their nation to read and write - and found themselves deeply transformed in the process. Based in history, "Maestra" also aims to spark contemporary political dialogue, reflection, and strategies for positive social change. The film's national tour is co-sponsored by the U.S. Women and Cuba Collaboration, The Literacy Project and Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Bozeman is one of 10 cities that the tour will visit during National Women's History Month.

Murphy, the producer and director of the film, will appear on the MSU panel. A San Francisco-based filmmaker, Murphy has spent much of the last 20 years working in Latin America. She is founder and director of The Literacy Project, a multi-media documentation project on adult literacy in the Americas.

Norma Guillard, Cuban feminist educator and activist who joined the Cuban Literacy Campaign in 1961 when she was only 15 years old, will also appear on the panel. The educator and activist is one of the women featured in "Maestra." A social psychologist from Santiago de Cuba, she is one of the first Cuban women of her generation to call herself a feminist. She is also one of the founders of "Oremi," the first organization of lesbian and bisexual women in Cuba.

MSU President Waded Cruzado will also sit on the panel. Prior to becoming MSU's first female and minority president in 2010, Cruzado served as executive vice president and provost at New Mexico State University, a post she held from September 2007. She is a native of Puerto Rico.

Panelist Patricia Catoira is a professor of Latin American Studies at MSU. The current chair of the MSU Women's and Gender Studies program, Catoira's research focuses on gender, migration and politics in Latin American (particularly Cuban) literature and culture.

Panel member Leah Schmalzbauer is a sociology professor at MSU whose research focuses on new destination Latino migration and transnational migrant families. She is currently working on a project exploring gender relations and family formation among Mexican migrants in the rural Mountain West.

The panel discussion is sponsored by MSU's Office of the President, Diversity Awareness Office, Modern Languages/ The Latino and Latin American Studies Program, Program in Women's and Gender Studies, Women's Faculty Caucus, Affirmative Action/Human Resources Office, the MSU Women's Center and Bozeman Business and Professional Women.

Phenocia Bauerle (406) 994-5801,