Photographer Captures Empowering Portraits of Cuban Women’s Subtle Strength

cuban women in havana

Photographer Cindy Bekkedam spent February exploring the streets of Cuba, taking in all that Havana has to offer. Bekkedam is an Ottawa-based wedding and lifestyle photographer who aims to capture the real, unscripted magic of every moment. In the case of her voyage to Cuba, she couldn't help but be drawn to the strong Cuban women she encountered.

“The lines on the faces of some of these women tell stories of hardship, yet their expressions reveal optimism,” Bekkedam explains to us in an email. “They hold within them a sense of pride and a unique kind of beauty. This deserves to be celebrated and honored.”

In a culture deeply embedded with machismo, women thrive in Cuba—holding almost 50% of the country's Parliamentary seats. Though they are afforded equal rights under the Cuban constitution, women work against stereotypes that pervade the culture. Even if working full-time, they are fully expected to maintain the home and catcalling is a common occurrence on the streets.

Working within these contradictions, Bekkedam captures Cuban women of all ages in moments of relaxation, friendship, and motherhood. Set against the vibrant backdrop of Havana, her images speak to a changing country of women who grew up under Fidel Castro and others who are coming of age in a post-Fidel era.

Cindy Bekkedam's photographs of Cuban women celebrate their diversity in moments of friendship, motherhood, and daily life.

photos of cubaphoto of cuban womenphoto of cuban womenphotos of cubacuban women in havanaimages of cubaphotos of cubacuban women in havana

“The lines on the faces of some of these women tell stories of hardship, yet their expressions reveal optimism.”

images of cubacuban women in havanacuban women in havanacuban women in havanacuban women in havanaimages of cubaimages of cubacuban women in havanaphoto of cuban womenCindy Bekkedam: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to use images by Cindy Bekkedam.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.

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