Venezuela: Rosa María Herrera de Hernandez

Each person has own rights and responsibilities, but we will be able to demand the first ones and assume the second ones only if we are aware of them.

— Rosa María Herrera de Hernandez

She has been a worker since her adolescence and she, herself, has experienced exploitation. A youth activist and promoter of human rights, Rosa María Herrera was born in Mexico, and now she works with and for women from poor Venezuelan communities: they support preventive health projects, create groups for developing ways of improving their quality of life and work for the right to a dignified life.

She was born in 1945, in Zacatecas, Mexico. She was the second daughter of ten brothers and sisters. Her father was an agriculturist and her mother a seamstress. “I grew up in a solid family, where there was a lot of respect and parents whose example was vital.” She had basic education but the family resources were not enough for her to continue her schooling. Her father lost his job. In 1962, she and her sister went to Mexico City. The day after they arrived, they were both hired to work in a dress factory. “I have been a worker since my adolescence and have experienced exploitation for myself: ten working hours a day, 56 hours per week, for a miserable salary. I lived with many other girls and boys that were experiencing the same reality and I knew that I belonged to the working class.” A militant since 1965, she was nominated as national coordinator of the organization Young Working Catholics (JOC). In 1970, three years later, she was elected coordinator for Latin America. “I always say that the JOC was my school and that the experience there made me a committed person for the rest of my life.” Love took her to Venezuela. In 1975, she married a militant worker and adopted his nationality. She began to work for women's rights in the Feminine Popular Circles in the Community Education and in Health for Guayana (Sapagua). In Sapagua she worked promoting health, for the improvement of women's quality of life and for the exercise of their rights. “There are fewer opportunities for women. They are trapped by the burden of looking after the family and that narrows their vision and makes them less likely to look towards other areas for their personal development. Poverty is a problem that particularly affects women. “Each day I am more and more convinced that we have to work hard so that the face of poverty will not be the one of woman.”

Salud para Guayana (Health for Guayana)