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10 Inspiring Latina Women Who Changed the World

By: Sandra Ortiz

These inspiring Latina women changed the world in different fields, from scientific contributions, and representation in the arts, to social justice advocacy that altered the destiny of new generations of women.

March 8 is one of the most significant days for our gender as we commemorate International Women’s Day. This date evokes the historic and persistent struggle for women’s equality rights. In 1909, the first International Women’s Day was celebrated in the United States.

However, a year later, in 1910, during the Second International Socialist Women’s Meeting in Denmark, it was officially proposed to commemorate this struggle in March. Decades later, in 1975, the UN officially recognized this day in response to various historical events that led women worldwide to raise their voices for their rights.

Since then, every March 8th, we internationally commemorate the struggle and sacrifices of the women who preceded us and paved the way for gender equality. Thanks to them, today we can exercise our right to vote, access equal job opportunities, hold public positions, and even pursue professional development. Although there is still much to be done, we cannot forget those women who set a precedent in various fields, demonstrating that there is no place for gender discrimination.

To commemorate International Women’s Day, we share a list of 10 inspiring Latina women who changed the world:

Lydia Villa-Komaroff

Latina scientist who contributed to the advancement of biotechnology in the United States. Her work led to the discovery of how bacterial cells could be used to produce insulin.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Sonia Sotomayor

 First Latina judge on the United States Supreme Court, advocating for diversity and justice.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Rigoberta Menchú

Guatemalan activist who fought for indigenous rights and peace, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ellen Ochoa

American astronaut and the first woman of Hispanic descent to travel to space. In 2013, Ellen Ochoa was appointed director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, becoming the second woman to hold the position and the first of Hispanic origin.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Rita Moreno

Puerto Rican actress and singer, winner of Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, and Tonys, known for her talent and representation of Latinos in Hollywood. She was the first Hispanic woman to receive an Oscar.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Dolores Huerta

Prominent labor and civil rights activist in the United States. Co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union with César Chávez, she fought to improve the working conditions of farmworkers. Her work makes her an emblematic figure in the history of the labor movement and civil rights in the country.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Sylvia Méndez

A key figure in the fight for school desegregation in the United States, setting an important precedent for racial equality in education. For nearly three decades, she has fought to bring a message of hope to Latino students.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Soraya Jiménez

First Mexican woman to win an Olympic gold medal in weightlifting, inspiring future generations of athletes.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Celia Cruz

Icon of Latin music and ambassador of Cuban culture, her legacy continues to inspire the Hispanic community worldwide. Proud of her roots, she always performed her songs in Spanish. She recorded 75 productions, 23 of which were awarded. Among her recognitions are the National Medal of Arts and the Lifetime Achievement Grammy, which she received posthumously.

Credit: Instagram/CeliaCruz

Gabriela Mistral

Chilean poet and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1945, whose work has had a profound impact on Latin American literature and culture. She was the first Ibero-American woman and the second Latin-American person to receive a Nobel Prize.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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About the author: Sandra Ortiz

Cathy-Nuestro-Stories-Writer-Image-200x275

Sandra Ortiz Juárez studied Communication Sciences in her native Mexico and obtained a master's degree in Audiovisual Journalism in Spain. She has worked on radio, television and in digital media such as AOL Latino, Mamás Latinas and in the magazines Siempre Mujer and Ser Padres, where she served as digital director. She has interviewed celebrities such as Carolina Herrera, Isabel Toledo, Natalia Jiménez, Luis Fonsi, William Levy, among many other personalities. In her free time she likes to dance and experiment in the kitchen. She confesses to being addicted to the internet and sushi.

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