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  • Writer's pictureTradoctas

Where were women while our national heroes were sitting to have their pictures painted?

Today marks the 205th anniversary of the Argentine Declaration of Independence

On this special day, we assert the participation of so many women in the process of building this country. Warriors, spies, seamstresses and upper-class ladies who had no qualms about sitting down to discuss politics with the male heroes who have taken all the credit all these years.

“It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power. There is a word, an Igbo word, that I think about whenever I think about the power structures of the world, and it is "nkali." It's a noun that loosely translates to "to be greater than another." Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principle of nkali. How they are told, who tells them, when they're told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power.”

-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Independence Women: Mariquita Sánchez de Thompson

Although being part of the aristocracy in her times granted her some moderate power, Mariquita Sánchez de Thompson was one of the first women to fight for women's rights in Argentina.

She was born on November 1st 1786 under the name María Josefa Petrona de Todos los Santos Sánchez de Velazco y Trillo. As a young, upper class lady, she was taught about culture, art, music, languages and manners. Her knowledge and economic position allowed her to participate in general discussions alongside national distinguished men such as Sarmiento and Echeverría during her famous social gatherings.

Her father arranged her marriage to Diego del Arco, a wealthy Spanish captain who was quite much older than her. Back then, there was a legislation called the Royal Pragmatic which stated that the nuptials of every woman younger than 25 years old had to be approved of by her father. However, she rebelled against her family's orders and was promptly sent to the Holy House of Spiritual Exercises (which still exists today as a museum, in the City of Buenos Aires). When she was released from the institution, she kept refusing to go through with her arranged marriage.

After her father's death, she decided to send a letter to viceroy Sobremonte to request the annulment of said marriage. Her action set a precedent and, after receiving the approval for her request by the authorities, Mariquita was finally able to marry her love, Martín Thompson.

Where were women while our national heroes were sitting to have their pictures painted?

The Argentine independence wasn't driven by the men who appear in our currency only. Upper-class women, journalists and peasants were also part of the fight to build a free country but they aren't usually mentioned in our History books. They were a pillar to support the budding development of the Argentine Republic, not as wives but as warriors, spies and nurses.

Before the famous declaration took place in the Historical House of Independence -home to Francisca Bazán de Laguna and declared a historic monument in 1941-, the fathers and mothers of our independence had many things to discuss: how would this new nation develop its own economy? Which ones would become its founding principles and values? What type of government would we choose?

Among these women, we can mention Mariquita Sánchez de Thompson, Macacha Güemes, María Remedios del Valle, the Ladies from Salta, Juana Azurduy... What did you learn about them at school?

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