Ecuador: Nela Martínez Espinosa

Then, I knew that by beating the ripened wheat and harvesting the grain, we would be capable of milling our flour, baking our bread and giving ourselves a banquet in memory of our true history.

— Nela Martínez Espinosa

A world fighter for peace, against military dictatorships and imperialism. She turned her indignation into a campaign for the human rights of both men and women. From different departure points, she contributed to the thoughts and actions behind the construction of citizenship for women. In 1940, Nela Martínez Espinosa led the occupation of the Presidential Palace where she was chosen, by the people, to manage the country for three days. After a popular election, she was elected the first female member of the Parliament of Ecuador.

“Is an Andean culture possible? I think that it is necessary. It is vital to dream of it. The autonomy that was lost–500 years ago–must be found again and rebuilt as the birthright of the sons and daughters of this unique and intangible place, which, nevertheless, is threatened by the insane superiority complex of the white race,” states Nela Martínez Espinosa. She achieved a brilliant leadership role in the Ecuadorian left-wing movement, participating in the foundation and consolidation of the first trade unions and indigenous organizations. Along with her contemporaries, she created the first women's organizations: the Ecuadorian Feminine Alliance, in 1937; and the Union of Revolutionary Women from Ecuador, in 1952, within which she founded and directed the first magazine for the women of the country. In the 1940s, she led the occupation of the Presidential Palace, where people chose her to manage the country for three days. After that, in a popular election, she was elected as the first female member of the Parliament of Ecuador. As an anti-fascist fighter, she participated in the foundation of the World Peace Council (1949), in Paris, and in the fight against the nuclear bomb. She founded and directed the International Democratic Women's Federation, supported the achievements of Manuela Sáenz Aizpuru, Colonel of the Liberating Army, in the fight for Independence and worked intensely for the defense of human rights, in committees of solidarity with the populations who were invaded or attacked by dictatorships. She generously opened her own home to refugees of different countries. Nela Martínez Espinosa died late 2004 after she was selected to be among the 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005.

Women's Continental Front for Peace and Against Intervention