Matilde and her struggle from the past, for the progress of the future

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Jacqueline Carolina Beltrán Molina, third grade student of medical career in the “Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador”. She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Long has been the struggle of women through the history to assert their rights both in politically, economically and sociocultural. In the medicine this struggle has not been left behind and several has been the women who, based on courage and effort have accomplished win a legacy in a profession that in its moments was government only by men. Such is the case of Dr. Matilde Hidalgo de Procel, Latin-American women, Ecuadorian native of the city of Loja and advance to her time fought for the women rights.

Many are the achievements that are granted to Matilde Hidalgo, between them, be the first woman with a high school degree of the country in October 1913, the first female medical graduate with honors of Ecuador in November 1921 and the first woman to vote in throughout Latin-American.

Matilde is the clear example of the female struggle to break the gap of gender that for centuries affected the Ecuadorian woman, Latin – American and the word. Dr. Hidalgo was born in Loja, September 29th of 1889, was the younger of six siblings in an originally Venezuelan family. Hidalgo was born in an epoch characterized for the church domain over the state, that involved many prohibitions for the women at the time, they were prohibited from studying high school degree or university careers.

Always, she counted with the support of her mother and brother. And even though both she and her family were victim of teasing, harassments by a society who didn´t understand why a woman want to study. She never let down and, through her academy excellence earned the respect of the society that initially points the finger at her for “want to behave like a man”. Matilde’s struggle was pacific but full of courage because, despite her academy achievements, she was looking for making visible the female voice through the political vote.

She made it in 1924, since there was no law which prohibited women to vote more than a patriarchal society who opposed, became in the first woman in Latin American in do it. But Matilde did not have it easy, various were people’s prejudices and envy of her male colleagues, because she was acclaimed by her natal city. This caused envy and she was falsely accused of negligence.

She would clear her name herself through her job in Guayaquil city and her educational achievements since she wins a scholarship to study pediatrics in Argentina. Her leadership was such that formed part of the Ecuadorian Medical Federation like a founder member, about the politic she was elected as first councilor of Machala and then alternate deputy of Loja.

Matilde is a paradigmatic figure, whose legacy impact on society, after her acts a lot of Ecuadorian women dared to study and vote, that allowed an enormous advance in the country. Matilde Hidalgo became an example of female empowerment, showing that the gender gap in medicine should not exist.

About the author

Jacqueline Carolina Beltrán Molina, third grade student of medical career in the “Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador”. Member of Comprehensive Health Sciences Student Organization. She pleased being able to contribute to the society through the formation of educational project that seeks to educate and raise awareness people. 

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