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In Cuba 8th Ibero-American Gender and Communication Encounter
Seasoned Cuban science reporter Aixa Hevia took a minute from the bustling organizing committee to explain to Prensa Latina that over 100 participants from 11 countries were present at the 8th Ibero-American Gender and Communication Encounter, sponsored by the Cuban Union of Journalists, Women's Federation and Cuban Association of Social Communicators.

Next to a massive portrait of Jose Marti at the International Institute of Journalism by the same name, she said "We are here to reflect on gender from traditional and alternative points of view. There are many Latin American projects underway in this field and we have the presence of the Spanish Association of Professional Women in Media and Communication."

She said that by February, 111 papers had been received from all over Cuba and 29 were selected for the event, dealing with the general lack of women's voices in media and high profile issues like the denial of visas to spouses of the Cuban Five antiterrorists in US jails.

Other topics include diversity, masculinity studies, the culture of peace, antiglobalization, new technologies, advertising, ecology, sexual health and reproduction.

She said Mexico has a serious problem of violence against women and in the lecture hall next door Carlos Vargas from that country gave a paper on legislation to protect women in that country against violence and stereotype generators.

He spoke in favor of creating a "consciousness of gender, training media workers, improving business ethics committees and the negative image of women shown on Mexican teledrama series."

Argentine psychologist and resident of Cuba Jeannette Via Ampuero spoke on linguistic sexism in education for social communicators, and neatly dissected the androcentric vision of a university text on General Psychology. She said the women in that volume were consistently associated with themes like children, emotions and private spaces, while the men were given free reign of the public domain.

She finished her presentation with the incisive figure of 301 references to men in the text, and to women, two.

The coordinator of the scientific committee, Isabel Moya, gave a paper on Otherness and Social Cohesion, and wondered if it were possible to fulfill plans for social programs when the media itself is against those goals. "Media constructs society," said Moya, versed in the language of contemporary media studies, and spoke of creating "parallel paths of interrelated plural images that tell their own stories."

Cuban television has shown the US television series Dr. House for some time, and Moya mentioned an episode where the lead in that program was temporarily cured of his limp, which returned shortly after.

Moya also has some physical challenges and said with a smile "It's a good thing he's back to his cane," in favor of a diverse vision in mainstream programming.

She gave a compelling argument in her paper for a transition of the concept of politically correct to social policy that is truly inclusive.

Isabel Moya told Prensa Latina afterward that "at this moment there is an explosion in the hegemony of new technology and computers have become as commonplace as household appliances."

As such, she said it is important to demand "plural and diverse messages that reaffirm peace and harmony, not violence, discrimination and fear."

She said "this is the millennium to promote difference not as inferior, rather diverse, and the media must educate in that respect."


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