Today’s Historical Hottie is the revolutionary, beautiful, and total bad ass Prudencia Ayala. Born in 1885 in Sonzacate, El Salvador, Ayala was a voracious self-taught reader, writer, and activist. Often going unrecognized in Anglophone post-secondary institutions of education, Ayala was the very definition of a groundbreaking feminist.
Forced to drop out of school due to her family’s lack of financial resources, Ayala taught herself how to read and write, along with learning the craft of being a seamstress (which she worked as for a time). Ayala also claimed to be able to predict the future, with her prophecies being published in the newspapers of Santa Ana. Her predictions included the large scale events such as the entry of the United States into the First World War.*
Ayala was well-known in her time as an activist that concentrated her efforts on anti-imperialism, feminist issues, and Central American solidarity especially in the face of United States imperialism in Nicaragua and other parts of Central America. She continued to struggle for social justice throughout her life, even at the cost of her own safety as in 1919 she was imprisoned for her critical newspaper writing. Despite women not having the vote in El Salvador until 1939 and not being legally allowed the right to stand for election until 1961, Ayala ran for President in 1930. It was due largely to Ayala’s agitation that a larger feminist movement grew in El Salvador, leading to the 1939 decision granting women the right to vote. I can only dream of the wonderful things Ayala could have accomplished as President!
Thank you to Prudencia Ayala and all the other women of colour, Indigenous women, or otherwise marginalized women across the Americas who have struggled + continue to struggle for social justice in their own ways. We here at Historical Hotties have the utmost respect for Prudencia and all the other women like her.
* According to Prudencia’s own lived experiences, she was able to foretell the future. Therefore we here at Historical Hotties wish to respect her authority and will not be engaging in any discussions over whether telling the future is “real” or not.
“Central & South America Suffrage Timeline.” Women Suffrage and Beyond: Confronting the Democratic Deficit. Accessed October 16, 2015. http://womensuffrage.org/?page_id=109.
“Biografia Prudencia Ayala.” Concertación Feminista Prudencia Ayala. Accessed October 16, 2015. http://www.concertacionfeministaprudenciaayala.org/quienes-somos.php.