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Achieving women's right to vote was a collective effort

Achieving women's right to vote was a collective effort

Argentine women's tradition of feminist fight for their civic rights built a sound foundation for the urgent enactment of law 13.010 in 1947, which involved not only women but also first lady Eva Duarte herself.

Evita was actively involved in the debates about the women suffrage bill put forward by legislators from the then-incumbent party. As explained by historian Dora Barrancos, the first lady visited unions and factories employing women workers to advocate for women's right to vote, encouraged them to stand at Plaza del Congreso in support of it and joined them from the presidential box during debates until the bill was passed on September 9th. When law 13.010 was enacted, she addressed the people gathered in front of the Government House (Casa Rosada) from the main balcony.

The issue had a long history of advocates: ever since 1918, many activists had been pushing forward the debate for women suffrage within society. The National Feminist Party, founded by Julieta Lanteri, was the only feminist organization created for electioneering purposes in Argentina. The same year saw a multi-party experience by the Association for Women's Rights, presided by Elvira Rawson. Entering the 1930s, women were gaining more participation within political parties and starting to organize their movement to demand their political rights.

"True feminists are long gone": suffragette Alicia

Alicia Moreau de Justo was born in London, England, in 1885. She worked as a professor, journalist, physician and politician. She arrived in Argentina at age 6. Her father, Armand Moreau, was a French freethinker who was involved in the Commune of Paris. Years later, he was forced into exile.

During the first European immigration wave to Argentina, the Moreau family arrived in Buenos Aires and opened a bookshop. Then, they started to connect with other already settled socialists. Alicia would go with her father to meetings and other events.

She went down in History as the second woman to become a physician in the country, after Cecilia Grierson. She graduated with Honors and wrote her thesis on gynecology. During her medical practices, she learnt about the needs of sex workers and women from low-income households who had sexually transmitted diseases and decided to specialize in this particular branch of Medicine.

She advocated for regulations to child and women's labor, the creation of child care centers and women's right to vote. She also questioned the institution of marriage in her youth. She participated in the foundation of the Medical Women's International Association and the National Feminist Union. Even though women's right to vote was enacted in 1947, she was among the first women to advocate for it.

How would you translate "mujeres legisladoras" into English?

While doing the final revision of our translation of the study “Sex and Power: Who is charge in Argentina?” by ELA, we came across the translation of “mujeres legisladoras” as “female legislators” and all the alarms went off at once.

Even though “female legislators” is correct from a grammatical point of view, as “female” takes its place as an adjective, it is not an inclusive phrasing. Why? “Female” refers to the sex in any species, while “women” describes specifically human women. Reducing them to their capacity to gestate is biologicist and dehumanizing, and also it excludes women who cannot gestate.

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