When I reflect on who the women were that inspired me the most to be a leader and an entrepreneur, I don’t have to search far. Both of my grandmothers, my aunts and my mom were all super women who never let obstacles stop them from accomplishing their mission, whatever it was. I secretly thought of them as the Amazon women and almost called El Clasificado La Amazona in honor of my Ecuadorean heritage and the women in my family. In 1988, I came close to naming our corporation Amazon Holdings. The irony is that Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com Inc. in 1994 and originally called his company Cadabra.
I was fortunate that my father, having grown up in this “Amazon” spirited environment, also expected women to be strong, resourceful, sharp and successful. Crying and making excuses because I was a girl was not really tolerated. I was raised with three brothers and mostly male cousins for most of my youth. Like the men in my family, I was expected to work hard, get a great education, and be successful in life. I grew up in Lawndale, California where most of the Latin girls I knew were not raised to think the same. They were not expected to go to college and worse, were not motivated to be successful.
March is Women’s History Month. Women’s History Month finds its roots in International Women’s Day celebrated on March 8 and first held in 1911.
If anyone wonders why it is necessary in the 21st Century to celebrate Women’s History Month we have to remember that women in the U.S. have only had the right to vote in national elections since 1920 when Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the nineteenth amendment. Eight states including Virginia, Maryland and Florida, three states that today have a significant Hispanic population, took more than 20 years to ratify the nineteenth amendment. Mississippi, the last state to sign the amendment, signed it in 1984, 64 years late. Women’s rights and accomplishments should not be taken for granted considering that only recently in US history are wives no longer considered “chattel” of their husbands. Unfortunately, while great steps in the United States, in many Latino subcultures, women are still considered second class citizens.
In honor of Women’s History Month I’d like to celebrate the contributions of inspirational Latinas to our history, culture and economy as well as all the women who turn impossible dreams into reality.
When I was five, I dreamed of becoming a flamenco dancer. Here are just a few of the many inspired American Latinas:
Please feel free to respond and submit the names of Latinas you would like to recognize.