In honor of Women's History month this March, its time to take a step back and honor the women who paved the way for the everyday rights we of often take for granted today.
La Conferencia de Mujeres por la Raza, was marked as the first time a Mexican-American feminists group came together in the state of Texas to discuss important issues on women's rights in relation to Chicano communities in Texas. The conference was held in Houston between May 28 and 30 in 1971. Mujeres Por La Raza was a women’s caucus within the Raza Unida Party that represented the merging of Chicano nationalism and Chicana feminism and advanced the political interests for Mexican - Americans and their communities.
The three major issues addressed during the women’s conference included discrimination as Mexican American women in racism, classism and sexism. Over six hundred participants attended the conference, 80 percent being Chicano women between the ages of 18 to 23.
The head organizer included Elma Barrera with major contributions form Yolanda Garza Birdwell and Gloria Guardiola. These three women helped organize a movement that addressed women rights and signaled the growth for a national political movement for Chicano feminism.
After the conference many articles were published on the Chicano movement and the issues that involved their communities. The conference helped bring light and national attention that helped create change and pave the way for future generations.
Elma Barrera was the head organizer for the conference and continued her career as the first Hispanic reporter in Houston, if not the country. She worked for 34 years as a journalist and paved the way for future generations in her fight as the cultural voice for Mexican American rights.
Yolanda Garza Birdwell co-formed the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) in Houston in 1968, MAYO became the major anchor for the Chicano movement in Texas. Her activism focused on issues affecting poor people in Mexican American communities and spoke openly about the white oppression that affected her people. Birdwell, continues the fight for women and human rights today.
Gloria Guardiola, followed her academics as a graduate of the University of Austin. She was an advocate for Mexican Americans and a teacher through out her life. She served as the Executive Director of the Association of Advancement for Mexican Americans. Guardiola, passed away in 2015 at the age of 73.