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Original photo part of the Private Collection of the Lozano-Delgado family, now protected by Jodie Padilla Lozano.

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Matilde
Hidalgo

An unwavering will and tenacious temper characterized Matilde Hidalgo de Procel, protagonist of the first female conquest in the educational, professional, electoral and political field of Ecuador. Born in Loja in 1889, Matilde, who dedicated her life to eliminating social barriers imposed solely on women, marked a milestone for the Latin American feminist movement in its struggle for equal civil rights.
 

Family and early years
Family and early years

Matilde was the last daughter of the Hidalgo-Navarro couple who already had 6 children because a few months before her birth, her father Juan Manuel Hidalgo Pauta had died from his contractor work in Peru. Carmen Navarro del Castillo gave birth to a healthy girl whom she named Deifilia Matilde Inés Hidalgo Navarro.

Antonio, Matilde's older brother of 14 years, receives Matilde with a call to become her absent father figure and teaches her to read and write before she was 4 years old. He also teaches her about art, culture, history, poetry and other knowledge that would have a great impact on Matilde's intellectual formation.

Primary studies

While still a primary school student at the "La Inmaculada" school in her native Loja - the final instance in the academic training of women at the time - Matilde questioned male domination, an idea firmly supported by her older brother Antonio, renowned musician and composer . She finished her primary studies at the “La Inmaculada” female school in the city of Loja, obtaining the distinction of Daughter of Mary for assisting the nuns of the Hospital de la Caridad, attached to her school, in nursing with the desire to follow her vocation. by medicine.

Primary studies
Secondary studies
Secondary studies

Matilde recognizes that she wanted to be a medical professional at a time when only men were free to do so, so in 1907 she proceeded to apply for enrollment with her mother at the “Bernando Valdivieso” male college. Like all unprecedented events, Matilde's grant to start high school became the first of many feats that would change the course of the history of Ecuadorian women.

Branded as liberal and even demonized, Matilde was isolated from a society marked by traditionalism, however she continued on her way with a heroic attitude, convinced that the role of women in society should not be confined to that of a cloister being , unable to carry out an activity other than prayer, housework and parenting. But all this refusal to her actions did nothing more than encourage her perseverance because in 1913 she obtained a bachelor's degree, being the first woman to complete high school.

In 1914 she entered the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Azuay - Cuenca, after being rejected by the Central University of Quito for being a woman and in 1919 she became the first graduate in medicine. Later, in 1921, she reached her desired goal, that of becoming the first doctor to graduate in Ecuador, now at the Central University of Quito, which years before closed the doors as an act of justice and recognition of Matilde's remarkable perseverance. .

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University studies
University studies

Surprisingly, she was not alone, not only did she have the support of her family, but like her, brave women and women of advanced intellectual condition simultaneously challenged the machismo of the twentieth century in their native countries, without even imagining that they would become figures. emblematic of the feminist movement of the region. It is not until 1924 that Matilde makes her greatest contribution to the cause; in that year the registration registers were opened for the elections of senators and deputies, so on May 10, Matilde asked to be registered to vote. Her request is denied in the first instance but due to her insistence in indicating that the laws did not prevent her, she achieves her mission, becoming the first woman in Latin America to exercise her right to vote. Her case was taken to the Parliament and Council of State for consultation, being June 9, 1929, 89 years ago, when women were finally recognized as citizens with the right to participate in national elections, with Ecuador being the first country in Latin America. in approving women's suffrage for a national election.

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Female suffrage
Female suffrage
Recognitions and honors
Recognitions and honors

From that moment on, Matilde was involved in the public arena, she was the first woman to run for a popularly elected position, with which she managed to be designated as the First Congresswoman of Ecuador in 1941. Charitable activity throughout her life , which was truncated in 1974, evidences her ethical and civic commitment to that arduous task of redefining the importance of women as an active member of society. Poet, professional, teacher, politician, civil servant, wife and mother; Matilde Hidalgo Navarro was a true visionary of the role of modern women… of LATIN AMERICAN women.

 

Written by Jodie Padilla Lozano , great niece of Matilde Hidalgo

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