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.