Thanks to all the feminist movements of the past, today women around privileged countries have an opportunity to pursue their educational goals. One of the first feminists in history, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, fought to have her voice heard. Sor Juana Ines was born in a time when women were voiceless. She was born in San Miguel Nepantla in New Spain, now known as México. She was a nun, a poet and a writer. Her strongest weapons: her knowledge, pen and paper. They are elements that do not receive as much credit today.
As a female of the 17th century, she had little access to education. She began to read and write at the age of three in her grandfather’s library. If she married her thirst for education would be threatened; in 1969, she took her vows at the Convent of Santa Paula of the Hieronymite. Little did she know that her education and writing would be silenced.
In a conversation with the Bishop of Puebla, she critiqued a sermon delivered by Portuguese Jesuit Antonio de Vieira. The bishop asked her to put her opinion in writing. In 1691, he published it without her knowledge or consent. Along with this text, the bishop included a letter condemning her intellectualism as a woman. In retaliation, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz wrote “Respuesta a Sor Filotea.” In this letter, she condemns the Catholic Church for not supporting women’s rights to have an education and explains that education can be used to serve God. This resulted in censorship; she was not allowed to publish her writing and was forced to give her books away.
LaGuardia Community College Professor, Ana Maria Hernández states, “Juana was a woman alone against the might of the church and the might of the ground. She certainly rose to the circumstances, certainly rose to trace a trail for women who came afterwards.”
Sor Juana Ines’ trail was followed in United States by women’s rights activists in the mid- 19th century. Her voice should serve as an inspiration to many. She fought battle for women yet she was the only soldier.
It is sad to say that the battle for women’s equality continues today. According to National Committee on Pay Equity, women only make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Women’s pay checks for the same job are about a quarter less than men’s. How is this fair?
Examiner, Worcester Catholic Women’s Issues writer, Patricia Clark mentions, ”her battle for equality for women in every aspect of life, but especially in education, should serve to inspire young and old women everywhere who occasionally forget, due to the clamor of the superficial values of the culture, that it’s not what adorns the head from without that makes the woman a beauty, but rather that which embellishes and stirs it within.”
If Sor Juana hadn’t fought against the stereotypes in a male dominated society, today women wouldn’t be able to fight for equal pay doing the same jobs as men. Women do much more than men today; they are employees, mothers and wives. The least they deserve is equal pay.
Women in the United States have a louder voice than many others around the globe. We have a right to vote, drive and work unlike countries where only males rule. If women’s voices unite to demand equality, change will come. Soon other nations will follow, such as Pakistan by having Malala Yousafzai as an activist. Great battles have leaders, but they also have soldiers. Women are strong beings, capable of so many wonders. They are equal to men; therefore they deserve the same rights.