Should Women Cheer for Vázquez Mota as Mexico’s First Woman President?

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Electing a woman as head of state–pretty much anywhere in the world–is a newsmaker. I wish it weren’t still in this day and age, but it is. It’s happened in India; it’s happened in Ireland; it’s happened in Liberia; and maybe someday it will happen in the US. Notably, in the past decade, it has […]

Five More Years of Ortega May Be Dangerous for Nicaraguan Women

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When the Nicaraguan electorate goes to the polls this Sunday in presidential elections, incumbent president Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN) party are almost guaranteed to win. Ortega has promised five more years of the same if returned to power—a dangerous prospect for Nicaraguan women and girls. Nicaragua suffers epidemic levels […]

In a First, UN Holds Brazil Accountable for Maternal Death Under CEDAW

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Nine years ago, 28-year-old Alyne da Silva Pimentel died needlessly from a difficult pregnancy after her care was both delayed and botched. A Brazilian of African descent, Pimentel lived in one of Rio de Janeiro’s poorest areas. When she delivered a stillborn pre-term fetus in her district’s local hospital, she languished without proper care until […]

SlutWalk, Bahia-Style

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Early this summer, I was in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, directing a five-week study-abroad program for Spelman College students when I began to hear buzz about the upcoming Marcha das Vadias, or SlutWalk. The first SlutWalk was held in Toronto, Canada on April 3 as an outraged response to a Toronto police officer’s comment that, in […]

Havana, For Real

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As a lefty progressive and a child of Cuban exiles, I’ve always been privy to two dominant narratives about Cuba. From family members who were forced to leave for political and economic reasons after Fidel Castro’s rise to power, I have heard the very typical anti-Castro perspective of Cubans in the U.S. My family mythology […]

Brazil’s Top Court Recognizes Same-Sex Unions

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Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court announced yesterday that it had voted unanimously to recognize the legal rights of same-sex partners in civil unions. While the Brazilian constitution defines a “family entity” as a “stable union between a man and a woman,” Attorney General Roberto Gurgel argued that the clause is a definition, not a limitation. It does […]

Another Woman Leader in Latin America?

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Last month, Sandra Torres announced that she was divorcing her husband, Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom, in order to run for the presidency herself. “I am getting a divorce from my husband, but I am getting married to the people,” she told reporters. The Guatemalan constitution bans the president’s relatives from running for office. If Torres […]

Five Fascinating Latinas for Women’s History Month

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The Latinas we see on TV and in film too often are relegated to being maids or sexy, voluptuous women. But we are so much more. This Women’s History Month, I want to celebrate just a few of the powerful and inspirational Latinas who defied stereotypes, greatly contributed to history and personally inspired me. Frida […]

My Favorite Feminist: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

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In honor of Women’s History Month, I want to honor my favorite (and too-little-known) feminist, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a 17th century nun, poet and scholar. Juana was born in 1648 in San Miguel Nepantla, Mexico, near Mexico City. She was officially registered as “a daughter of the Church” because her parents were […]

PBS Draws Attention to Human Rights Crisis in Guatemala

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PBS’s new two-part report on women in Guatemala, which aired this week, shines a much-needed light on a mounting crisis of women’s health, rights and safety while offering a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel. As I reported in the Winter 2011 issue of Ms. Magazine in my article “Fighting Femicide”, the […]