Peru: Virginia "Gina" Vargas Valente

The fight for peace goes hand in hand with the fight for overcoming inequality, oppression and exclusion in public and private life and in the innermost being.

— Virginia "Gina" Vargas Valente

She wanted to do things that no one had done before. She is an activist who thinks with pragmatism. She believes that life gave her an opportunity. Her independent life gave her the drive to strive for more. She felt that women had to change themselves, before they could change other things. Virginia “Gina” Vargas, the feminist, will soon be 60 years old and the Flora Tristán Center, one of her most important organizational efforts, is 25 years old.

Virginia “Gina” Vargas is an activist who reflects with pragmatism. She married and moved to Chile. She speaks with admiration about Salvador Allende, and she feels pain because of his violent death. Her father, whose memory she honors, always helped her without questioning. Her life as a feminist began by accident. She was working at the National Institute of Culture and was told to organize a course about the situation of women. She contacted specialists in Peru and other countries. She reflected, read, questioned. This course changed her life. The Flora Tristán Center was born at Gina's house. They discussed whether it should be an investigation center or a center for the confluence of women. In 1982, when they organized a march in support of abortion, they began as 50, but were only 20 at the end. The repression was atrocious. Gina could not understand the lack of solidarity, especially from her second partner. “Then, I understood that it was not everyone else's problem. It was my own, in my daily life.” Peru was living a violent time. The feminists challenged it by organizing marches for peace. They felt that the situation of inequality against women was a permanent violation of peace. In 1997, along with a group of women, Gina formed Women for Democracy, and along with other organizations they confronted the dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori. Gina participated in the international arena. She joined the Marcosur Feminist Articulation of Women and the World Social Forum. “Our country is a kind of open wound. To change so many historical injustices, not only those related to gender, feminists need to accept an open dialogue with other movements.”

The Flora Tristán Center of the Peruvian Woman Marcosur Feminist Articulation of Women World Social Forum