Mexico City has produced and nurtured many inspiring women over the years, from Leonora Carrington (the British surrealist who made the Mexican capital her adopted home) to Pola Weiss, a video-art pioneer, and Leona Vicario, a female journalist in the 19th century. However, there are plenty of important, trailblazing and influential women coming out of Mexico City all the time. Here are nine contemporary examples.
Alejandra Barrios Richard
Alejandra Barrios Richard is a community leader, known for heading up the Asociación Légitima Cívica Comercial, central Mexico City’s largest street vendor organisation. It was founded back in 1982, and Barrios Richard has been at the helm ever since. It’s now said she oversees some 12,000 street vendors. Her family has been described in some media as a dynasty of sorts, with fingers in many pies, some of which are political. Barrios Richard is far from the only woman leading the vendors on the streets of Tepito, as this City Lab article proves.
Once the captain and leading goal scorer (of any man or woman) of the Mexican National Team, Domínguez has also played for FC Barcelona, the San Diego Sunwaves and the Chicago Red Stars, among other international clubs. In 2004 she was signed for a men’s team in Mexico, before FIFA shot down the request.
If you recognise the name Lydia Cacho, it’s likely got something to do with the fact she was kidnapped and assaulted for her valuable work reporting on (and securing the first conviction for) child pornography and sex trafficking in Mexico. However, her documentary-worthy backstory shouldn’t overshadow her other accomplishments, which include founding a centre in Cancún for abused women and children, serving as a long-time activist, feminist and human-rights advocate and exposing the shady underbelly of Mexican society that others are afraid to touch.
Mexican astronomer Silvia Torres-Peimbert played a key role in determining the chemical composition of nebulae. In fact, she won an award for it. However, that’s far from this inspirational woman’s only legacy. Torres-Peimbert studied in Mexico City and California, edited the Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics and became the second female president of the International Astronomical Union in 2015.
Patricia Castañeda, who sometimes goes by her full name of Patricia Midori Castañeda Miyamoto, is only in her mid-20s and is already one of Mexico City’s most accomplished women and one of its best athletes. She earned herself two silver medals in the 2007 Pan American Games, and even competed in the 2012 London Olympics, although now she’s focussing on getting a degree in chemical engineering from the Universidad de Guadalajara.
Well known Mexican feminist and anthropologist Lamas has also authored several papers and texts on everything from sex work to abortion to feminist theory, while also co-founding the pro-choice organisation GIRE (Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida). While she remains heavily involved with both GIRE and her other organisation, Semillas, she is also currently serving as the editor of Debate Feminista and teaching political science.
Olga Sánchez Cordero
You likely won’t recognise the name Olga Sánchez Cordero, yet this Mexico City-born lawyer served as the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice minister for 20 years. She retired just a few years ago, after making a name for herself as one of the most liberal members of the court, voting in favour of decriminalising abortion and concerning herself with topics such as migration. As if that weren’t enough, she has also served as a professor at the university where she once studied, the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
As first reported by Karla Zabludovsky for Buzzfeed News, Emma Pantaléon is one of the women helping to coordinate water deliveries in the outlying, vast neighbourhood of Iztapalapa, Mexico City. As she notes in her report, while much Western media has focussed on the impending water crisis in Cape Town, Iztapalapa has remained entirely overlooked, despite there often not being running water there for months on end. Pantaleón has been working tirelessly to make sure the clean water delivery trucks make it to everyone.
Carmen Aristegui, the sharp leftist journalist and radio host who has regularly received censorship for her take on the current ruling government, the PRI, regularly crops up on this kind of list, and not without good reason. Despite pressures faced daily thanks to her views and writings — the latter of which has won her the National Award for Journalism more than once — she doesn’t conform and is considered one of the most incisive journalists in Mexico today.
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