Today, all over the world, we celebrate International Women’s Day. It’s a day to both celebrate women’s political, economic, and social achievements and to continue to call for greater gender parity.
For me, today is a day to remember and to be grateful for the amazing women who have struggled, sacrificed, and forged a new path for their families. The mamas, abuelitas, and tías, those that are well-known as well as those whose accomplishments are only known to a few.
I have been fortunate that on both sides of my family I’ve been surrounded by strong and determined women. It was my maternal and paternal grandmothers that made the decision to immigrate to the United States for a better life. My mom’s mother came to this country from Mexico as a single parent, recently divorced, with five children. With only an elementary school education, she worked multiple jobs to give her children better opportunities.
It was because of my abuelita that my mom dreamed of going to college. Although she had to drop-out of community college to begin raising her children, she never gave up on her dreams. My mom graduated with a bachelor’s in nursing when I was in middle school and received her master’s degree the same year that I graduated with my master’s. Her degree is in nursing, and mine is in public health. She also supported my sister, brother, and me when we went to college. All of us have completed undergraduate and graduate programs.
These stories of strong women are everywhere. I hear my friends recount them. I hear about great-grandmas,grandmas, or moms that took a risk and made a difference. I hear about how the women in our families financially supported and encouraged their children to defy the odds and finish college.
We need to publish, read, and celebrate more of these stories. Our children need to hear the everyday stories of Chicanas and Latinas who have ventured out, charted new territory. One of my favorite storytellers is Isabel Allende. Her Ted Talk speaks to the importance of using our feminine energy and passion to advocate for a better world, to have more women in positions of power. She does this through storytelling.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day today and Women’s History Month in March, I have pulled a list of books for children and adults, written by Chicana and Latina authors that celebrate our amazingness as women in our culture. There are many more Latina authors and stories. There are authors like Sandra Cisneros, Julia Alvarez, and Gloria Anzaldúa. I chose to showcase emerging writers and newer books that we may have yet to hear about.
- Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
- Bird of Paradise by Raquel Cepeda
- I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erica Sanchez
- The First Rule of Punk by Celia Perez (children’s)
- Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos by Monica Brown (children’s)
- Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez (children’s)
- The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
- The Ladies of Managua: a Novel by Eleni Gage
Today and this month, may we celebrate the mujeres through their words. It begins with our stories.
Raquel F. Donoso
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