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.