It’s the 101st International Women’s Day and we’re celebrating with a list of 10 Latinas who inspire us! Some are stars in their fields and others are not quite household names, but inspirational nonetheless. These women make us proud to be Latinas and push us to make a difference.
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International superstar Shakira is known for more than her beauty, charm, and provocative lyrics. Since starting the Piez Descalzos Foundation in 1995, she has made activism and philanthropy part of her work and currently serves as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Her commitment to philanthropy has been recognized by the Clinton Global Initiative, among other organizations.
Just a couple of months ago, longtime civil rights advocate Cecilia Munoz was named the new director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. For years before that, she worked with the National Council of La Raza, an organization that works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans through community organizing, policy analysis, research, and more.
It is unsurprising that Hilda Solis has quickly become a role model for young Latinas interested in politics. As the first Hispanic women to serve as a Cabinet member, she became the 25th U.S. Secretary of Labor in 2009 under President Barack Obama. Since then, she’s fought to give more power to unions and workers, a struggle important to countless Latinos in the U.S.
As a broadcast journalist constantly in the public eye, Soledad O’Brien has used her influence to bring issues of race, ethnicity, and culture into the public dialogue. She stands out from colleagues not only for her appearance, but for her passion and conviction.
You may not have heard of the name Concepcion “Conchita” Picciotto, but it may soon be one you never forget. A longtime activist, she’s been living in Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C. in protest of nuclear arms since August 1, 1981. Originally from Spain, her peace camp is notable for being the longest continuous act of political protest in the U.S.
No list on Latinas who inspire us is complete without Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice and only the third woman justice. Born in the Bronx, this proud Puerto Rican graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University and started her career in law after attending Yale Law School.
Rosario Dawson is more than just a beautiful actress, she’s also committed to social change and Latino empowerment. In addition to her involvement with Amnesty International, Oxfam, and many other organizations, she co-founded Voto Latino in 2004 in order to bring Latino issues to the forefront.
Speaking of Voto Latino, we can’t leave out Founding Executive Director, Maria Teresa Kumar. For years, she’s been speaking out about government, politics, social entrepreneurship, and other important issues, and can be seen regularly on CNN, Telemundo, and MSNBC.
For some, the name “Dolores Huerta” will forever conjure the famous image of a strong Latina holding up a sign that says “Huelga.” She has been heavily involved in the labor rights and civil rights movements for over 60 years and is an inspiration to many. It was recently announced that in an upcoming film about the life of Cesar Chavez, she will be played by Rosario Dawson.
Rita Moreno may seem like a strange addition to a list with big names in politics and philanthropy, but her role as an “inspirational Latina” cannot be ignored. One of only 12 entertainers to win all major entertainment awards – Emmy, Grammy, Tony, and Oscar – she is still the only Latina on that list. Her career spanned decades and her commitment to the arts was recognized in 2004 with the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded by President George W. Bush.