Women’s History Month: Underrated Dominican Women in History

By Linnette Cruz 10-I

March is known for being Women’s History Month, which means that for the next four weeks the female struggle and the contributions made by women all over the world will be highlighted upon. Throughout history, it is evident that women are constantly underappreciated and overlooked. Although the recent upsurge of feminist activism in the United States – which quickly spread all over the world  – has definitely had its impact on our everyday lives and the pursuit of equality, we are still continuously reminded of all of the work that must be endured to ensure that women all across the globe are treated just as equally as men. From overemphasized domestic roles to getting little to no representation in the history books, the history curriculum has clearly failed to get across the significant impact and roles women have had to shape society as we know it. To celebrate Women’s History Month, let’s dive into the Dominican women whose great efforts and bravery during the 19th and 20th centuries have gone uncredited and have influenced the country today.

The Mirabal Sisters – also known as “Las Mariposas” – were four sisters who grew up in Salcedo, Dominican Republic, during the gruesome dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo from 1930 to 1961. Three of these sisters, known as Minerva, Patria, and Maria Teresa served as activists and got involved in plans to overthrow the dictator during this blood-ridden era, and in turn, were sentenced to three years in prison. Once free, Trujillo sent his henchmen to murder the three women, an act that instead of feeding him power, ended up causing even more revolts which led to his assassination in May of 1961. Along the same lines of political activism, Yolanda Guzmán was another brave woman who was one of the first female combatants to fight against the U.S. Invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965. These valiant women fought for our country’s independence, which led them to suffer traumatic untimely deaths. 

Not only was there an increase in female involvement in political activism during the 19th century, but there were also massive contributions made in the literature world as well. As an educator and poet, Salomé Ureña was (and still is) considered the most cultivated national poet of the 19th century. Born in post-independence times, Salomé Ureña grew up hearing about the annexation to Spain and the war that Juan Pablo Duarte fought for the country’s newfound freedom, which ignited her nationalism and love for the country, causing her to write excellent patriotic poems such as ‘Ruinas’. In addition to her memorable poems, Ureña also became known for having founded the Instituto de Señoritas, hoping to create a safe school made specifically to educate women. Salomé defied the odds of growing up as an uneducated woman, and in turn, used her talents to help other girls in her community as well. 

Manuela Díez y Jiménez was the mother of Juan Pablo Duarte, the father of the Dominican Republic and founder of La Trinitaria. As his mother, Manuela Díez played an important role in supporting and nurturing the dream of her son which led him to form this secret society which led to the independence of the Dominican Republic from Haiti in 1844. Another known Dominican patriot who contributed to the nation by making our national flag is Concepción Bona Hernández. Together with her cousin María de Jesús Pina and María Trinidad Sánchez, these women showed their everlasting dedication to the homeland by making a flag that would continue to be a respected national symbol today. 

To expand more on the fearless Dominican women who played an important role in the war for independence, it is important to know about Juana Saltitopa. Born in 1815, Saltitopa transported water for the Dominican army during the Battle of March 30, 1844. She also served the army by working as a nurse for the wounded soldiers. Due to her dedication, she was given the nickname “La Coronela”. 

Despite the fact that our history books tend to be dominated by men, it is important to learn about and recognize these female icons for what they truly are: intrepid smashers of the patriarchy. These women had the courage to stand up against their male counterparts for the sake of our country. Although many of their efforts have gone uncredited, years later they continue to inspire young women to be the change they want to see. The long-lasting fight to support women continues, which is why it is important to take time and reflect on our past and the amazing contributions that have been made by these powerful women in history. 

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