Category Archives: South America

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is one of Mexico’s greatest artists. Born Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderon in Coyocoán, Mexico City to a Mexican mother and German father, her early life was spent in Casa Azul (the Blue House) which today houses a museum dedicated to her life and work. She was influenced by indigenous Mexican culture as well as religious and political themes, and is most famous for her self-portraits. she once said, “I paint my own reality”. Continue reading Frida Kahlo

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Juana Inés de la Cruz – Scholarly Sister

Juana Inés de la Cruz was a nun with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and a firm belief in womens’ right to education. She is regarded by many as the first published feminist in the New World.

Born near Mexico City in 1651 to unmarried parents, Juana, like most girls of her time, had very little access to education as a child. But this didn’t stop her; she developed a desire to learn from an early age and could be found hiding in the chapel of the hacienda where she lived, devouring her grandfather’s books.

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Mathilde Hidalgo de Procel – First in Everything

Ecuador was the first Latin American state to enfranchise women, in 1929.  The pioneer who symbolised women’s striving for emancipation in a cruelly conservative society was Mathilde Hidalgo de Procel.

She was born Mathilde Hidalgo in Loja, Ecuador in 1889 in a family of six children.  Her father died when she was young and her mother was obliged to work as a seamstress to keep the family.  Mathilde attended a convent school, and she was an academic child but her education was soon to stop as senior schools were reserved for boys in Ecuador.

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Gabriela Mistral

Born 7th April, 1889 was the Chilean poet, Gabriela Mistral.

Born Lucila Godoy y Alcayaga, she published her poetry under the name Gabriela Mistral. In 1945 she became the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and remains the only Latin American woman to do so.

As well as a poet, Gabreila was an educator, a feminist, and was involved in politics throughout her life. She argued for the right to education for children, she spoke up for the rights of women and the poor, and believed strongly in peace and democracy. She defended those who were oppressed and used her essays, poetry and newspaper articles to draw attention to their plight.

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Tina Modotti – Revolutionary Photographer

For our first contribution to Sheroes of History, Chiara Bernardi , a PhD student at Warwick University, and her sister Benedetta, who studies photo-journalism and women in Italy, tell us about Tina Modotti:

Assunta Adelaide Luigia Modotti, or Tina, as she became known, was born in Italy on the 17th August  1896.

In 1898 her family moved to Austria, but then came back to Italy in 1905, when Tina was nine years old. Tina, who couldn’t speak Italian, was a quick learner and soon succeeded in all classes and finished primary school. However, her promising results in school didn’t grant her access to further education; her family’s poor background forced Tina into a job in a spinning mill.

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