You may know Guadalupe Rivera Marín as the eldest (and only surviving) daughter of muralist Diego Rivera, one of Mexico's — and the world’s — most renowned artists.
However, few are aware that Dr. Rivera Marín stands as a powerhouse on her own merits. She’s an accomplished author, lecturer, economist, lawyer, cook, teacher, former senator and congresswoman in Mexico, and a loving mother and grandmother.
Her many accomplishments, however, would never have been possible without her father.
"My father and I shared a love of Mexico and the Mexican culture," she told us. "His passion and dedication as an activist were inspiring to me. The high value he placed on education drove me to become who I am."
These days, Dr. Rivera Marín, 90, continues to add to her impressive resumé. "I'm always creating," she said. "I just finished a children's book illustrated by the works of my father."
We chatted with this incredible, inspiring woman about her greatest challenges, her proudest moments, and her best piece of advice for fellow Latinas. Read it all below:
Which of your accomplishments makes you the proudest?
Growing up in Mexico City helped me realize there was a big difference between the rich and the poor classes. Because of my father’s influence and our frequent travels around the country, I soon developed a great interest and zeal for Mexico’s people, history, food and culture. I felt a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of the struggling women in my country. At 14 years old, I declared that I would become a legislator, and I would help them.
I feel proud that my career allowed me to represent my beloved people as a Senator in Mexico. I worked in rural communities, created jobs, built sports centers, facilitated seamstress workshop locations for indigenous women and campesinas. These women used to work in terrible conditions; they sold on the streets, and earned pennies for their work.
How does it feel to have blazed a pathway for women in politics?
I am very happy to say that I was among the activists who fought for women's right to vote in Mexico. I was able to plant seeds for women to pursue careers in politics. In the past, a woman’s participation in public life was frowned upon, because it was not acceptable for women to have roles outside the kitchen. We were viewed as incapable of participating.
Now, women have rights in Mexico. The number of career women who are extremely successful — particularly in politics — has increased tremendously. There is still a lot of resistance — especially in small communities — but we have come a long way.
It is admirable that we have three women presidents in South America: Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Michelle Bachelet of Chile, and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina. We are sending a resounding message that a woman is strong enough to govern. Women excel when they work for and with other women. The biggest mistake we can make is to foster antagonism with other women. Women must support each other and promote understanding.
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