Eminent People: Introducing Evita

I know that, like every woman of the people, I have much more strength than I appear to have. -Eva Perón

Eva Perón, or Evita, was a truly inspiring character— a prime example of a well-known person using their platform for a good cause. Her work on women’s suffrage issues revolutionized feminism in Argentina. Despite her controversial ways, it’s indisputable that Eva changed the role of women in not only her country but in all governments moving forward.

In 1919, Eva Perón was illegitimately born into a poor household with dreams to act on the big screen. At age 16, she moved to Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, to pursue a career in acting; she eventually got a job as a radio personality and was soon one of the most well-known voices in the country. She met Juan Perón at a benefit for a recent earthquake and the two soon became close. Days after Juan was released from a short period of military incarceration, Eva and Juan were married in 1945. After Juan Perón’s successful presidential campaign in 1946, Evita became extremely involved in government affairs, including the launch of a campaign for women’s suffrage— a law that was eventually passed. This campaign is often credited with being the gateway for women gaining the right to vote in Argentina. Evita also spent a great deal of time managing the “María Eva Duarte de Perón Welfare Foundation” or “Eva Perón Foundation”. This foundation took money from large corporations and factories and redistributed it in the form of clothing, medicine, and food, as well as larger projects such as hospitals and schools. This work, although controversial, seized the hearts of many, which eventually led to thousands of Evita supporters, or descamisados, throughout the country.

 

The widespread support of Evita and her ideas eventually led to her Vice-President nomination for Juan’s second term. Her supporters were extremely vocal about their nomination, and their protests began to verge on violent. Although she wanted to take the job, she was forced to decline due to her inadequate health condition. Her refusal to run as VP was publicized by Evita in an emotional speech directed at the crowd below her; this moment is likely the most famed moment in her life.

Evita worked passionately on issues that I find important, and I find her dedication and ambition admirable. Although I find her inspiring, I’d say that we have very little in common. Eva was born into a broken family in Argentina before working her way up to the First Lady; it’s likely that I’ll be unable to relate to some aspects of her journey due to differences such as these. However, I feel that I may be able to relate to her ambition and her “do what you have to do” mindset. This mindset made her enemies but also built her up to where she was. In juxtaposition, the decisions she made were strikingly larger and more important, but I do find myself making smaller, but somewhat comparable decisions in everyday life.

In conclusion, I find Evita’s work impressive; her ambition, dedication, and consistency are all traits I admire. Next, I plan to continue my research on the specifics of her political career and further understand her influence on government. I look forward to shedding light on someone whom I see as an underappreciated historical figure and I earnestly hope that others recognize and understand the effect she’s made.

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