A photograph of Marielle Franco speaking at a public event.

The Most Influential Women of Latin America & Spain

Tom Welbourne Battersea Spanish

The Most Influential Women of Latin America & Spain

International Women’s Day is fast approaching and on the 8th of March, the world will turn its attention to its women and girls to celebrate their movements towards achieving a world of greater equality. 

In light of this fabulous day, we thought there’s no better way to show our appreciation than to round up some of Spain and Latin America’s most influential females! 

 

Elvia Carrillo Puerto 

Also known as “Monja Roja del Mayab” or “The Red Nun”, Carillo was a Mexican socialist, politician and feminist activist. 

She founded Mexico’s first feminist resistance organisation in 1912 which delivered speeches and lectures to the public about women’s health, child care, economics and the place for women in government. These resistance organisations led to the legalization of birth control throughout Mexico and the introduction of family-planning clinics. 

 

Marielle Franco 

Marielle was a Brazillian activist who spent years of her life advocating for the LGBTQ community, alongside many other marginalized groups. She spent her years speaking publicly about police brutality, social injustice and campaigning for equality. 

In 2018 in Rio de Janeiro, Marielle Franco was assassinated after leaving an event called “Young Black Women Who Are Changing Power Structures”. Following her death, thousands of members of the public took to the streets throughout Brazil to demand justice.

A photograph of Marielle Franco speaking at a public event.

 

Anabel Hernandez 

Anabel Hernandez is a Mexican Journalist who’s writing exposes activity such as drug trafficking, sexual exploitation, slave labour and organised crime throughout Mexico.

Most famously, her book “Los Senores del Narco” or “Narco Land” explores the complicit role of the Mexican government in the world of organised crime and the Mexican drug trade. Over the 5 years that it took to write the exposition, Hernandez was assigned two full-time bodyguards by the National Human Rights Commission as a response to numerous death threats. 

 

Isabel Allende 

Goddaughter of Chile’s first socialist president Salvador Allende, Isabel is a Chilean writer with multiple, global best-sellers. Her father, a diplomat, deserted her family when she was very young and her writing is widely known to be heavily informed by her commitment to social justice and feminist convictions. 

Her writing is such that Allende has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama, chosen for her making “especially meritorious contributions” to American life. 

A portrait of Isabel Allende.

 

Margarito Cedeno de Fernandez

Margarito came into the public eye as First Lady of the Dominican Republic between 2004 and 2012 while her husband Leonel Fernandez was president. During her time as First Lady, Cedeno set up globally recognised programmes in education, childhood development, family planning and technology. 

She later became the vice-president of the Dominican Republic, only the second woman in history to hold this position. Her supporters greet her with the phrase “Llego mama” which translates to “Mum has arrived”. 

 

Penelope Cruz 

Perhaps one of the most recognizable Spaniards in the world, Penelope Cruz was the first Spaniard ever to be nominated for a Best Acting Oscar. And she later became the first Spaniard to win an Oscar, claiming the title of Best Supporting Actress in 2009. 

While the world may know her mainly from her films, Cruz is also widely recognised throughout Spain for her philanthropic work. Most famously, donating her entire salary for the film ‘The High-Lo Country’ to Mother Teresa’s starting foundations to support homeless girls in India. 

A portrait of Penelope Cruz

 

Clara Campoamor 

Campoamor is one of Spain’s most influential feminists, known for helping women gain the right to vote. As one of only three female members of the Constituent Assembly, in 1931 she advocated suffrage and spoke out against the discrimination of women in Spain. 

Although she succeeded in helping women gain the right to vote, she was forced to flee Spain under the reign of Fransisco Franco unless she publicly apologised for ‘slandering’ the Catholic Church. Campoamor refused to do so and died in exile in 1972. 

 

Eva Longoria

Another well-known face is that of Eva Longoria, who is perhaps best known for her role in Desperate Housewives. But lately, Longoria has been speaking out about this year’s US election. 

She wrote in a recent article for Variety, “My priority is advocating for democracy itself”. She also speaks frankly about the ways in which the upcoming election will differ from any held before in the way that technology and propaganda have affected not only America but the rest of the world. 

The article, and her stance on the election, incite the importance of having a democratic candidate that speaks to all American’s and not just a portion of the population. Longoria details the importance of equality, justice and morality as the starting point for policy. 

A portrait of Eva Longoria speaking at a podium.

 

We’re Feeling Inspired… 

A commonality amongst these incredible women is that they have shaped the way of the world for their fellow females. 

And of course that they have Hispanic or Latin American heritage. 

International Women’s Day is all about celebrating success stories of women and girls from throughout the world and all these women have succeeded in changing the course of history for not only women of their culture, but women across the globe. 

But if, like us, writing an expose of government secrets or publicly campaigning for your next election seems a way off. Fear not. 

There are tons of other ways that you can celebrate International Women’s Day, even if that is just by spreading the word about these incredible women… or some other incredible women you know! 

Happy International Women’s Day!