Latinas "choose to challenge" the establishment on International Women's Day
Our suffragette ancestors constantly challenged the system for our right to be heard, now it is our turn to make ourselves heard.
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March 8 is not a day for polemics or divisions, but to celebrate the "social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women" and to continue fighting for equality with men.
Because "a challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change," and this year's slogan for International Women's Day is #ChooseToChallenge. Under this umbrella, a multitude of events will take place all over the world, changing as far as possible the street marches for that infinite planetary interstate that is the Internet.
But before we propose some ways for you, as a woman and a Latina, to join the challenge, be aware that today's challenge has been going on for more than 100 years, when the first suffragettes in the U.K. and the U.S. began to shake up the system for the rights of all.
The role of Latina women in the struggles for women's suffrage has been key and ignored by history, although in 2020 these legendary activists who pushed for women's rights began to be recognized.
Like the Californian María Guadalupe Evangelina de Lopez, who became one of the leaders of the suffragette movement in the state and translated the movement's speeches and pamphlets into Spanish for Hispanic women.
Evangelina de López was also the first Latina to teach at UCLA, and was a member of the Votes for Women Club, which sought passage of California's Proposition 4 that would give women the right to vote in the state.
In 1911, at a Votes for Women Club rally at Los Angeles Plaza, Lopez took the stage and made her speech in support of suffrage in Spanish — she was a pioneer in that, too.
With her help, California became the sixth state in the nation to pass women's suffrage, nine years before the passage of the 19th Amendment.
In New Mexico, too, suffragists such as Trinidad Cabeza de Baca, Dolores "Lola" Armijo, Adelina Otero-Warren, James Chavez, Aurora Lucero, Anita Romero and Arabella Romero took to the streets for the cause of women's suffrage.
These hard-hitting activists insisted that the National Women's Party (NWP) work with and include Spanish-speaking women, helping with translations to include bilingual publications and speeches in the movement.
Armijo became the first Latina woman to serve in the New Mexico government when she was appointed state librarian in 1912. And Otero-Warren was the first woman superintendent of Santa Fe schools and the state's vice president of the NWP. She also came close to being the Republican Party's representative to Congress.
It was that same year, 1916, that Democrat Soledad Chavez de Chacon became the nation's first woman Secretary of State of New Mexico and the first Hispanic woman elected to statewide office in the United States.
Change is only possible by challenging everything that is wrong for women around the world. That's why many women have been inspired and launched challenges that you can join in a creative way to spread the message that full equality is not yet here, but we are on the way.
For example, by reciting.
The word is powerful, as poet Amanda Gorman made clear at President Biden's inauguration. But there are others besides Gorman who have decided to climb that hill.
Spoken word poets from around the world will share their thoughts and challenging verses on feminism, race and politics through social media by creating a #ChooseToChallenge poem. Anyone can do it too through the hashtag #IWDpoetry.
Artists like Anisa Nandaula, who say:
"Your vision and your goal are not for other people's eyes to see, because they are not meant for them. So when people belittle them or tell them that their dreams are unrealistic, they listen to lips whose ears have never heard the call to greatness." Or 17-year-old poet Aminah Rahman, for whom poetry is "the heartbeat for change."
It is also with a constant beat to the rhythm of rap. From the hand (and mouth) of rapper C Cane with Janet Taras of Speaking Rights, who amplifies the message of the #ChooseToChallenge by encouraging all female rappers, both professional and amateur, to rap with her.
Anyone can upload their raps to social media using the hashtags #IWDrap #IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge and spread the rhythm!
Find more talks, virtual shows and events both global and local on the www.internationalwomensday.com website.