Latinas are a powerful, resourceful, and determined segment of the population, and throughout history many have fought the good fight to advance women’s rights in the United States and around the world, using their skills, their unique skills and knowledge. From workers’ rights activists like Dolores Huerta to women’s health advocates like Helen Rodriguez Trías, there have been a number of strong, vocal, and driven Latinas in history who have dedicated their lives to causes that would advance Women’s rights. As members of a marginalized community, their work has truly made a difference in helping Latinas rise up in society and raise awareness of issues disproportionately affecting Latinas and women of color such as femicide.
We say thank you to them all and want to take a few minutes to honor them and their contributions to women’s rights, whether they were made over half a century ago or are still working hard to make a difference. today. Read on to learn about 12 empowered Latinas who made a difference.
At 91, civil rights leader Dolores Huerta still works every day to fight for workers’ and women’s rights. Best known for leading the women farm workers’ rights movement with fellow activist Cesar Chavez in the 1960s, she is also a feminist who ensured that women farm workers also enjoyed their rights. Its famous uplifting slogan, “Sí, se puede”, remains a rallying cry for change and perseverance.
There are many people who only think of “that movie with Madonna” when they hear the name Eva Perón, but Perón, who served as Argentina’s first lady between 1946 and 1952, was a leader voice of the women’s suffrage movement in her country. . Many credit her with having passed the Women’s Suffrage Law in 1947 and she founded the Peronist Feminist Party in 1949. The party led many women to stand in the 1951 elections in Argentina and helped the women to establish themselves as legitimate politicians and activists.
Venezuelan activist Argelia Laya was a staunch socialist, but more importantly, she was absolutely dedicated to women’s rights. She led the women’s suffrage movement in her country in the 1940s and later fought to keep unmarried pregnant girls in school and to establish sex education programs in high schools, among other things. “Among the underprivileged, women bear the most cruel burden. Because of the division of labour, (…) the lowest paying jobs are left to women, as well as household chores, the so-called women’s work,” she writes in her book, Our Cause.
Sylvia Rivera worked tirelessly for the rights of the trans community and trans people of color for decades beginning in the 1960s. She was best known for being a leader of the Stonewall riots in New York in 1969, but even after that, she worked at the grassroots level to advance the movement for trans rights. In fact, Rivera is the founder of one of the very first shelters for trans youth, STAR, which was also the first political organization to advocate for trans rights around the world.
One of only three female justices of the United States Supreme Court currently in office, Sonia Sotomayor, has always been an advocate for women’s rights, but she has been increasingly vocal about them in recent years, especially following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In January 2022, she was one of the most vocal judges against Texas’ proposed six-week abortion ban. “This case is a disaster for the rule of law and a serious prejudice to women in Texas, who have the right to control their own bodies,” she said after a recent hearing. “Today, for the fourth time, this Court refuses to protect pregnant Texans from gross violations of their constitutional rights.”
Helen Rodriguez Trias
Pediatrician Helen Rodriguez Trías was passionate about women’s health and ensuring that poor and disadvantaged women received the care they needed and deserved, and that their medical rights were not violated. While working at Lincoln Hospital in New York, she founded the Committee to End Sterilization Abuse and the Committee for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse, helping to draft federal regulations regarding sterilization and ensuring that consent documents are available in different languages.
We all know Isabel Allende as an incredible Latin author, but many may not realize that she is what she described as a “rabid feminist”. She has always used her writing to empower women and started writing for a women’s publication in Chile. She created the Isabel Allende Foundation with the aim of defending and protecting the fundamental rights of women and children. “We invest in the power of women and girls to ensure reproductive rights, economic independence and freedom from violence,” reads the organization’s mission statement. It does this by raising funds and making grants to organizations that support women and children.
Mexican artist Frida Kahlo has created a bold legacy of feminism for Latinas through her bold and powerful artwork. She has used her art to speak out on topics ranging from gender norms and identity to miscarriage and abortion, in ways that weren’t and in some cases aren’t. still not seen as socially acceptable, creating the kind of visibility for women’s issues that we still don’t often see. Not only that, but she refused to comply, and that alone helped set a precedent for the work that many feminists still do today.
Virginia “Ginny” Montes
Virginia “Ginny” Montes was a labor leader who used her voice to passionately advocate for women in the workplace. She was the first Latina to become a national leader of the National Organization for Women, a group that still exists today, with the goal of connecting feminist activists and fighting for positive social change for women of all backgrounds. . Montes was responsible for leadership training for the organization and also acted as government liaison for racial diversity.
Linda Chavez-Thompson is a labor leader and member of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization, who is actually the highest ranked woman in the organization’s 100+ year history. One of her key initiatives with the organization initially was to ensure that at least 30% of its funds were used to recruit women and minorities for membership. Chavez-Thompson is also a board member of Women’s Policy Research. Now in her seventies, she continues to fight for equal pay for women.
Maria Salguero refuses to sit idly by and let the femicide problem in Mexico continue to be ignored and covered up, as some officials are accused of doing. In 2016, she built a map tracking femicide cases in her country, in her spare time, eventually creating a geography-specific database that painted a more detailed picture than anything the Mexican government offered. Salguero’s database includes names, ages, causes of death and more crucial details, bringing both attention and context to the deadly injustices that are committed against women in her country every day.
A candidate for Argentina’s presidential election in 2019, Manuela Castañeira, is also the director of women’s rights groups, Las Rojas. She has been fighting for years for women’s rights, especially the right to abortion. She has worked to help free women imprisoned for having abortions and has been a strong supporter of Argentina’s voluntary termination of pregnancy bill, which passed in 2020. She regularly organizes and participates in rallies, demonstrations and other events intended to educate and incite change.