Spotlighting unsung Latina heroes this International Women’s Day
Here at Latinitas every day is a celebration of girl power. We love admiring the strong women in our social circles. From our mamis and abuelitas to our besties, classmates and work colleagues — every woman has a story to tell and should be reminded of how incredible she is. Today, though, it’s all about girl power at a global scale.
March 8 marks International Women’s Day, a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also encourages women and their allies to take action in the name of true gender equality worldwide. IWD began in 1911 with the support of more than one million people in Europe. In 2019, the worldwide event is still going strong.
We have so much to celebrate at Latinitas. We have a host of alumna who have become leaders in technology, media, the government and other industries of impact. We have many girls and young women who are making the most of the programs we offer, including our teen programs, camps, Club Latinitas, workshops and our special events such as Party for Chica Power on April 27 at The Center for Social Innovation in Austin.
Girls are the future and today we want to highlight some of the unsung Latina heroes of the 21st century who have made a political or social impact recently. You won’t hear about them much in mainstream media, but they are worth celebrating. We want to thank them for changing our world for the better.
Women’s Health: El Salvador Trio
Alba Lorena Rodríguez, María del Tránsito Orellana and Cinthia Marcela Rodríguez
These women were unjustly imprisoned as a result of the Central American country’s total abortion ban. The trio of women was released from prison on March 7 after serving a combined total of 29 years in prison. The Salvadoran court acknowledged that their prison sentences were unjust and immoral.
Though more than 25 economically disadvantaged women remain imprisoned under the country’s abortion ban, it’s a victory for women in oppressive political environments worldwide.
“While we celebrate their freedom, we recognize that there are similar laws around the world that make an emergency during a pregnancy a crime,” said Paula Avila Guillen, director of Latin America Initiatives at the Women’s Equality Center. “In the United States, states like Tennessee and Georgia have passed restrictive bans that would outlaw abortions after a heartbeat has been detected – endangering and devaluing the lives of pregnant women, effectively making them second class citizens. We deserve better.”
International Strike: Puerto Rico’s Coalición 8 de marzo
There are strikes against injustices throughout the world right now, including in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. Coalición 8 de marzo is a unified force of collectives, organizations and women on strike in honor of International Women’s Day and to denounce the stoppage of basic government services. They are protesting inadequate funding when it comes to employment and pension security, health, public education, housing, immigrants, body autonomy, sexist violence and public safety. They believe the government needs to address these issues urgently.
“Women are on the frontlines fighting for a just recovery for Puerto Rico. On International Women’s Day we will stand together against the systemic injustices we face under inherently racist and patriarchal institutions. Our work will continue to push for a culture and policy shift that includes brown, black, trans and queer communities,” said Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy.
Mexican Beauty Pageant: Yukaima González
Yukaima González is an 18-year-old indigenous women who made history by winning the 2019 Feria Nayarit beauty pageant. A member of the Wixárika community, she pridefully wore a typical costume (winning in that category) that embraces her culture and represented the “eyes of God.”
“Many people told me that I couldn’t participate in a beauty pageant and look at me now. I’m standing here today and happily reaching for my dreams,” she told judges per a statement in El Urbano News.
Fashion: Mija Cultura
Mija Cultura is a Houston street fashion brand promoting the Latino culture and lifestyle of founders JoAnn Elizabeth Alvarez and Karla Dominguez.
The digital and pop-up street brand includes clothes and accessories that speak to the complexity of Latino culture, whether it’s a fifth generation Texan who doesn’t speak Spanish or a Latin American immigrant.
Mija Cultura was featured in an International Woman’s Day Telemundo segment a few years prior. The women hear from customers all over the U.S. and hope to one day own a store front.
“It’s about feeling comfortable in our own skin and going with the flow. It’s about how you feel in our clothing,” Dominguez said in an interview with Fierce by mitu.
Christine Bolaños serves as editor of Latinitas Magazine. The 2016 International Women’s Media Foundation fellow is an Austin, Texas-based freelance journalist focused on the areas of social justice and women’s empowerment. Her work has most recently been published by the Guardian, NPR’s Latino USA, Remezcla, Latina Style Magazine, the Daily Dot, Project Pulso, Mitu and many other national outlets. The award-winning writer is a proud Salvadoran-American and an advocate for women of color in the media.