For our Activist History project, we decided to search outside the boundaries of our own nation into the history of Argentina–more specifically, Eva Peron’s activism. Eva Peron was, first and foremost, a feminist activist, but also an actress and a political figure later in her lifetime. Peron, by the maiden name María Eva Ibarguren, founded her own entertainment business 20 years after moving to Buenos Aires at age 15.
But in addition to her personal successes, Peron won a victory for the women of Argentina: the right to vote. After moving to Buenos Aires, she married Juan Peron, who soon after became president of Argentina.. As First Lady, Eva took advantage of her political position and began pushing feminist ideals. Soon after her husband’s induction into presidency, many charity groups that were only privately financed began receiving support and funding from the government, like The Sociedad de Beneficencia (Society of Beneficence).
On July 8th, 1948, The Fundación María Eva Duarte de Perón (later re-named to The Eva Perón Foundation) was created to help provide charity work or social service to those Argentines who needed it. The foundation soon employed 14,000 workers, including 6,000 construction workers, and 26 priests. In addition, it purchased and distributed 500,000 sewing machines, 400,000 pairs of shoes, and 200,000 cooking pots annually; it gave out scholarships, built hospitals, homes, and other charitable institutions. They also built entire communities, such as Evita City, which still exists today. Her foundation also helped eliminate inequality in Argentina health care so that all people received the same medical benefits.
Having grown up a poor girl, Eva was a prominent figure with whom the women of Argentina could identify, bolstering her support as a leading activist. Despite this, some women did not “approve” of her impoverished background and refused to support her in her endeavors; this was merely a hindrance which Eva overlooked as she took up activism in the name of Women’s Rights. Eva voted only once in her lifetime, just before her death due to cancer. Because of her activism, she and all Argentinian women rejoiced in a victory of justice and equality.
By Mathias Smith & Faith Reed