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
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.
Ana Rosa Tornero (1907-1984) was a prominent feminist activist in
Bolivia. She founded the first feminist organisation in the country, Ateneo Feminista, in 1923.
She was also the publisher of the first
feminist magazine in Bolivia,
in 1922. In 1947, she was the head of the organising committee of
the first Interamerican Women’s Congress, which dealt with human rights,
education and liberty of expression for women across Latin America.
Muna Lee (1895-1965) was a poet and activist, dedicated
to promoting cultural relations between the US and Latin America. She spent a
significant part of her life in Puerto Rico, where she campaigned for equal
rights and women’s suffrage.
She was a poet and translator, working in
English and Spanish. She was the director of International Relations at the
University of Puerto Rico for almost a decade, and the founder of the
Inter-American Commission of Women.