Mexiko: Teresa Columba Ulloa Ziaurriz

We should learn to educate people about justice and equality, without discrimination, without gender-violence.

— Teresa Columba Ulloa Ziaurriz

Teresa was named after her grandmother. Her daughter was named after her mother. Three key women in her life: the first two give her strength, and the little girl gives her happiness for fighting. When she was 20 years old, she was elected Secretary General of a trade-union. Her father felt let down: “So much effort for this,” he said. Teresa Ulloa would never leave ‘this.’ Since then, she has defended poor women and children in Mexican courts, on the streets and in the community. “There are a lot of them, we cannot stop,” she affirms.

“I have worn my knees out walking around this country, and I have been through a lot of hard times, economically.” Teresa Ulloa has walked all over the Republic of Mexico to meet with other women, sharing her belief that life should not be lived in fear, demanding the authorities to fulfill their obligations, and teaching people about legal mechanisms and instruments designed to eliminate gender-violence. “I remember a meeting in Guerrero, in the southwestern part of the country. I had to pass through seven military checkpoints and, at every one of them, they wanted to take my materials away from me. We met with the women surrounded by army tanks. Paradoxically, I spoke to them about their right to live without violence. The courage that they showed gave me courage, too.” Now, 54 years old and leaning on her walking stick, she says: “Peace resides in the possibility of a life in which there is no violence of any kind. A life like that is only possible through dialogue and justice, within nations and between them. A future of peace will come about when the inequality between men and women disappears. This starts in everyday life, and it has to go on every day.” A trades-unionist, she joined the feminist movement, and from there has fought legal battles to defend thousands of mistreated women and girls. She has freed innocent women from jail, and she has put male aggressors behind bars. “I also found things of vital importance for myself, and, now, life has given me the blessed gift of a late maternity. My daughter gives meaning to my fight and to my whole existence. The little girls in the world are the ones who most need my continued struggle.” For the past five years, she has dedicated herself exclusively to fighting against the sexual exploitation of children in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Popular Defenders, A.C.