International Women’s Month: Latina Firsts

In honor of International Women's Month, we decided to take a look at some pioneering Latina women from all over the world. Here are some of the ladies who broke down barriers and blazed the paths that we are all following to this day.

1. Latina Firsts - Selena


Selena was the first Tejano musician to go gold with the album Ven Conmigo, released in 1990 and opening the flood gates for many other Chicano and Mexican artists. Dubbed the “Queen of Tejano Music,” the Grammy nominated singer’s life was tragically cut short at the age of 23 when she was murdered by her former assistant.

2. Latina Firsts - Lorena Ochoa

Lorena Ochoa

Ochoa is the first female Mexican golfer to be ranked #1 in the world, and she's just 27-years-old! Many people don’t know that Lorena also regularly competes in triathlons and marathons and has a love for the great outdoors. When asked why she decided on golf, she responds, “It’s hard to do well (in golf) and I like the challenge of managing my mind.”

3. Latina Firsts - Rebecca Lobo

Rebecca Lobo

Now working as a basketball analyst on television, Lobo was the first Latina and the first player EVER drafted to the Women’s National Basketball Association. The Cubana basketball phenom made the move to ESPN after playing for the New York Liberty for 5 years when a knee injury ended her career in 1999.

4. Latina Firsts - Margarita Engle

Margarita Engle

This Cuban-American author is the first Latina to win a Newbery Honor for Children’s Literature. She received the honor for her most recent novel, entitled The Surrender Tree about a young nurse during the Cuban War of Independence from Spain.

5. Latina Firsts - Michelle Bachelet

Michelle Bachelet

This notable Chilena became the first female president of the country and the first female head of state ever in Latin America. She was sworn into office on March 11th, 2006 and since then has faced down corruption, expanded reproductive rights for Chilean women and reformed the public education system.

6. Latina Firsts - Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

After serving as First Lady during her husband Nestor’s presidency from 2003 until 2007, Kirchner decided to take matters into her own hands. On October 28th, 2007 Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner became the first freely elected female leader of Argentina, following in the footsteps of Evita and Isabel Peron.

7. Latina Firsts - Laura Elena Martinez Harring

Laura Elena Martinez Herring

Born in Sinaloa, Mexico, this bombshell became the first Latina Miss USA in 1985. Herring went on to enjoy a relatively successful career as an actress, with her most notable role coming as Rita/Camilla Rhodes in the 2001 David Lynch film Mulholland Drive.

8. Latina Firsts - Ellen Ochoa

Ellen Ochoa

Selected by NASA in January 1990, Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman in space when she served on a nine-day mission aboard the shuttle Discovery 3 years later. She was sent on assignment to study the Earth's ozone layer and since then has won many awards for her success as an engineer and an astronaut.

9. Latina Firsts - Rita Moreno

Rita Moreno

Rita Moreno has broken down so many barriers it is difficult to count. She is the first Latino to ever win an Oscar, a Grammy, a Tony, and an Emmy. The 77 year old actress recently returned to the stage to star in a cabaret show at LA’s famed Conga Room.

10. Latina Firsts - Hilda Solis

Hilda Solis

Raised in La Puente, California by immigrant parents from Nicaragua and Mexico, Solis was recently appointed by President Barack Obama as the 25th Secretary of Labor for the United States.

11. Latina Firsts - Antonia Coello Novello

Antonia Coello Novello

Novello became the first female and the first Latina U.S. Surgeon General. The Boricua doctor held various positions at National Institute for Health, eventually rising to medical director of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps before being appointed in 1990 by President George H. W. Bush to the Surgeon General position.

12. Latina Firsts - Dolores Del Rio

Dolores Del Rio

Dolores del Rio was the first Latina to conquer Hollywood. The Mexican actress was a huge star during the silent film era and the Golden Age of Hollywood and went on to become a huge star in Mexico later on in her career. She is still a consummate style icon to this day.

13. Latina Firsts - Christy Turlington

Christy Turlington

This Salvadoreña beauty started turning heads at an early age, and at 14 began her modeling career. In 1988, Turlington along with Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer became known as the first supermodels; raking in millions of dollars in exclusive contracts and appearing on hundreds of magazine covers.