13 Famous Hispanic Women in History Who Made Enormous Impact
Famous Hispanic women in history have inspired countless young women to believe in their dreams. They show us how powerful we are as individuals and how much we can inspire others with our actions.
Keep reading to meet 13 famous Hispanic women whose amazing accomplishments will motivate you to improve the world.
13 Famous Hispanic Women in History
Famous Hispanic women in history have paved the way for public figures today. It’s time to celebrate influential Hispanic women and their impact on the world.
1. Rigoberta Menchú
Rigoberta Menchú is a Nobel Prize winner from Guatemala. She has been a passionate spokesperson for the rights of indigenous people. Her work won her a Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. Her voice has made her a human rights leader in Central America.
In 2002, Menchú was one of the most celebrated speakers at the World Social Forum. In 2006, she and five other Nobel laureates created the Nobel Women’s Initiative to promote justice, peace, and equality for women.
Famous quote: “Peace cannot exist without justice, justice cannot exist without fairness, fairness cannot exist without development, development cannot exist without democracy, democracy cannot exist without respect for the identity and worth of cultures and peoples.”
2. Gloria Estefan
Gloria Estefan is a singer who fled from Cuba with her family as a young child. She’s one of the most famous Hispanic women in history because she was the first wildly successful Cuban artist in the United States.
Gloria has millions of fans, and she opened the door for many Latina artists. She started her musical career with the Miami Sound Machine and her music reached the top charts for years.
Gloria has also produced Broadway musicals. And she was the chairperson for a campaign that raised $40 million to build the Lois Pope LIFE Center and the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.
Famous quotes: “Whatever it is your heart desires, please go for it, it’s yours to have.”
“As an immigrant, I appreciate, far more than the average American, the liberties we have in this country. Silence is a big enemy of morality. I don’t want our blunders in history to get repeated.”
Hand-picked for you: 12 Gloria Estefan Songs That Can Teach You Spanish
3. Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo is a Mexican feminist icon and artist whose folk art paintings focused on women’s strength. Rather than living in the shadows, Frida chose to live out loud despite her unconventional lifestyle.
A bus accident in her youth left her with lifelong physical pain, yet she prevailed as an artist. The Louvre purchased one of her surrealist paintings, making Frida the first Mexican artist featured at the famous French museum. She participated in many expos in the U.S. and Mexico.
She was also a communist and an activist. Her art and life represented realistic, raw, and portrayal of Mexican traditions. Frida’s empowerment of feminists continues to impact today’s generations.
Famous quotes: “Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?”
“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.”
4. Eva Perón
Eva Perón, also known as Evita, was the wife of Argentine President Juan Perón. She served as First Lady from 1946 until her death in 1952. She was outspoken about labor rights and trade unions.
She ran the Ministries of Labor and Health and fought for women, who were commonly treated unjustly. Perón founded the first Argentine large political party called the Women’s Peronist Party. Evita asked her followers to carry on her legacy after her death.
Famous quotes: “I know that like every woman of the people, I have more strength than I appear to have.”
“One cannot accomplish anything without fanaticism.”
5. Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende is the world’s most widely read Spanish-language author of all time. Her works educate and entertain her readers. The Chilean writer weaves intriguing stories with significant historical events.
Allende’s stories have powerful women with a mythical touch. Her uncle was Salvador Allende, a former president of Chile who was overthrown in a military coup. This inspired her to aid victims of the repression and brutality of Pinochet’s regime.
She had to flee her country in 1975 to live in exile for 13 years. Allende started the Isabel Allende Foundation in the 90s. She is one of the most famous Hispanic women in history due to her contributions to society.
Famous quotes: “Write what should not be forgotten.”
“The library is inhabited by spirits that come out of the pages at night.”
6. Michelle Bachelet
Michelle Bachelet was Chile’s first female president to hold office. She was in prison in 1975 for being a dissident during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.
She has been an advocate for gender equality and works for the empowerment of women. She also defends indigenous people from injustice.
In 2018, Michelle became the seventh United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She created the National Institute for Human Rights.
Famous quote: “For me, a better democracy is a democracy where women do not only have the right to vote and to elect but to be elected.”
7. Rita Moreno
Rita Moreno is a Puerto Rican actress who burst onto the scene in the 1950s. Her iconic roles in The King and I and West Side Story put her on the radar. Moreno is the first Latina to ever earn an Emmy, an Oscar, a Peabody, and a Tony award.
She is an advocate for racial and gender equality, immigrants, and relief for Puerto Rico. Rita is a shining example of what can happen when you show up, work hard, be yourself, and give back to your community.
Famous quotes: “Smell the roses. Smell the coffee. Whatever it is that makes you happy.”
“Bigger than life is not difficult for me. I am bigger than life.”
Hand-picked for you: 15 Fabulous Lessons I Learned From Puerto Rican Actress Rita Moreno
8. America Ferrera
Ferrera is an actress and an activist. She’s involved in many charities that help at-risk kids. She also co-founded Harness, which inspires, educates, and activates an interdependent community of cultural organizers and encourages people to use the power of storytelling to create a more equitable world.
America lends her voice to support the Democratic Party and recently launched She Se Puede, a digital lifestyle community for Latinas. America continues to be involved in projects that help the greater good.
Famous quote: “To me, the tragedy about this whole image-obsessed society is that young girls get so caught up in just achieving that they forget to realize that they have so much more to offer the world.”
9. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC, is a 31-year old American politician, economist, and activist. She is a Progressive Democrat and the youngest Congresswoman to ever be elected. She has represented New York’s 14th District since November 6th, 2018.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is of Puerto Rican ancestry and is considered a rising star in U.S. politics. She has a degree in International Relations and Economics from Boston University and has more than 8 million followers on Instagram. She’s influential and has inspired many young girls to follow a career in politics so that they can have an impact and create change.
Famous quotes: “Change takes courage.”
“We don’t have time to sit on our hands as our planet burns. For young people, climate change is bigger than election or reelection. It’s life or death.”
Hand-picked for you: 13 Reasons AOC Is An Inspiration (No Matter Your Politics)
10. Ellen Ochoa
Ellen Ochoa was the first Latina to go to outer space. She was a research engineer and inventor who created optical systems for aerospace missions.
She was then selected to be an astronaut and served as director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston from 2013 to 2018. She continues to speak at schools and conferences to inspire young girls to focus on their education because that was the key to her success.
Famous quote: “Being an astronaut is a wonderful career. I feel very privileged. But what I really hope for young people is that they find a career they’re passionate about, something that’s challenging and worthwhile.”
Hand-picked for you: How Ellen Ochoa Became the First Hispanic Woman to Go to Space
11. Christiana Figueres
Christiana Figueres was Executive Secretary of the United Nations on Climate Change from 2010 to 2016. She is a leader on global climate change and directed successful conferences for Climate Change during her career.
Christiana is the daughter of a former Costa Rican president and was born in Costa Rica. She has led her life dedicated to making the world better. She is committed to eliminating the climate crisis.
Christiana brought together corporations and activists, national and sub-national governments, communities of faith and financial institutions, technology providers, and NGOs to jointly deliver the climate change agreement.
Christiana has continued to improve the global response to climate change. She is the co-host of the podcast “Outrage and Optimism.” She continues to work relentlessly for the planet and has had a major impact in the world.
Famous quotes: “We cannot ask others to do what we have not done ourselves.”
“We will move to a low-carbon world because nature will force us, or because policy will guide us. If we wait until nature forces us, the cost will be astronomical.”
12. Selena Quintanilla
Selena is the Queen of Tejano Music who received many awards in her short life. Her album, Ven Conmigo, sold over 500,000 copies. It was the first Tejano gold record and went double platinum.
Selena was the first Tejano female artist to win Best Mexican-American Album for her last album. Dreaming of You hit the top of the Billboard Top 200 and it was the first album by a Latina that reached the top.
Selena Quintanilla wanted to help the Latin community through her music. She changed history by singing mostly in Spanish in the United States and being popular with different social classes.
Famous quotes: “I feel very proud to be Mexican. I didn’t have the opportunity to learn Spanish when I was a girl, but it’s never too late to get in touch with your roots.”
“I want to be remembered not only as an entertainer but as a person who cared a lot, and I gave the best that I could. I tried to be the best role model that I possibly could.”
13. Dolores Huerta
As a school teacher, Dolores Huerta noticed that many of her students in class showed up malnourished. This inspired her to begin her crusade to correct economic injustice.
In the 1960s, Dolores (along with Cesar Chavez) founded the first union for farmers in the United States called the United Farm Workers. Huerta played a crucial role in many accomplishments for the union and sometimes even risked her own life to ensure that farmers got their rights. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 and is an icon in the Latin community.
Famous quote: “Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.”
Hand-picked for you: Dolores Huerta: One of the Most Influential Labor Activists of the 20th Century
Get Inspired to Learn Spanish
Are you inspired by these powerful famous Hispanic women in history? Inspiring people are always learning and continue to improve themselves no matter how famous or successful they are. Famous Hispanic women in history are recognized in their fields for helping make the world a better place.
Learning a second language has many proven benefits. According to Forbes, Spanish is spoken by more than 559 million people globally. Of those, 460 million are native speakers, making Spanish the language with the second largest population of native speakers in the world.
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage month by signing up for a free trial class and skyrocketing your fluency to a new level. Learners of all levels are welcome, including total beginners. Take a look at our programs and prices and speak to one of our certified native-speaking teachers at Homeschool Spanish Academy today!
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