Category: latin america

Benita Galeana (1903-1995) was a Mexican feminist activist. She was an active campaigner for social justice, women’s rights and
worker’s rights in twentieth-century Mexico.

She was a member of the Unified Socialist
Party of Mexico, and was part of the efforts to regulate the standard
eight-hour working day, and to offer social security to workers. She was also
active in the United Pro-Women’s Rights Front, and fought for female suffrage,
as well as for abortion and maternity leave rights.

Wright de Kleinhans
was an early Mexican feminist. Through her magazines, Violetas de Anahuac and
Mujeres de Anahuac, she promoted female education and the idea that men
and women were intellectually equal.

She was a journalist and a member of numerous
literary societies around Mexico, always advancing ideas of gender equality and
the possibility of distancing oneself from the feminine ideal of marriage and
motherhood. One of her greatest achievements is the book Mujeres notables mexicanas
(1910), which contains 116 biographies of important Mexican women, of which
29 were indigenous – an important recognition at the time.

Marie Durocher (1809-1893) was a Brazilian
physician, specialised in obstetrics. She was the first female doctor in Latin America.

She obtained her
degree from the Medical School of Rio de Janeiro in 1834, after which she
practiced her profession for 60 years. She cared for pregnant women and helped deliver
babies from all social classes, from the poorest to the grandchildren of the
Emperor. In 1871 she became the first female member of the National Academy of

Ana Betancourt (1832-1901) is
considered a national heroine in Cuba. She played an important role in the
country’s independence war against Spain.

She supported not only Cuban independence, but
female empancipation in the country, linking the cause to the abolition of slavery
and anti-colonialism. While she was living with other revolutionaries in the
forest, she was captured and exiled to Spain; even so, she continued to support
the cause from overseas. A state award has been established in her name in Cuba.

Ernestina Pérez Barahona (1865-1951) was one
of the first women to graduate with a medical degree in Chile. She was the
second female doctor in the country and in the whole South American continent,
graduating days after her compatriot Eloísa Díaz Insunza.

She graduated from Universidad de
Chile in 1887, at the age of 21. She went on to specialise in gynecology in
Berlin, where she was physically separated from her all-male classmates by a screen.
She returned to Chile and dedicated her career to the advancement of female
education and health.

Susana López Charretón (b. 1957) is a
Mexican virologist. She won the 2012 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award for her work
on rotaviri.

She obtained her PhD in basic biomedical
research from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and now works for its
Institute of Biotechnology. Her research was instrumental in identifying how
rotaviri cause the death of 600,000 children every year.

Milka Duno (b. 1972) is a Venezuelan race car driver, best known for holding the female record for the 24 Hours of Daytona Race. She was also the first woman to ever win a Ferrari Challenge Race.

Her racing career started in 1996, at the age of 24. Prior to that, she obtained master’s degrees in fields such as Naval Architecture and Marine Biology, and worked as a naval engineer.

Leona Vicario (1789-1842) was one of the most important figures of the Mexican independence movement. She was a prominent member of Los Guadalupes, one of the earliest independence groups, and used her fortune to sponsor the rebellion.

She was one of the first female journalists in Mexico, and held strong feminist beliefs which she often expressed in writing. She is considered a national heroine in her native country.

Lya Imber (1914-1981) was a
Venezuelan physician of Ukrainian origin. She was the first woman in Venezuela
to earn a Doctorate in medical sciences.

She emigrated to Venezuela at the
age of 16, and earned her Doctorate in 1936. She was the Head of Service at the
Municipal Children’s Hospital in Caracas, and President of the Venezuelan
League of Mental Hygiene.

Jemera Rone (1944-2015) was a dedicated human rights
activist, working mostly throughout Africa and South America. She is best known
for years of reporting on human rights issues in Sudan.

She graduated from Barnard College and Rutgers
University Law School, and later served as the Coordinator of the Human Rights
Watch of East Africa. She has overseen investigations in these matters in 24
countries, such as El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras.