Las Poderosas

By Julie Etra and Jane Bauer

Maria Asuncion 
Arumburuzabala is the wealthiest
 woman in Mexico. She is the
granddaughter of Don Felix
 Arumburuzabala, founder of
 Grupo Modelo, the brewing
company that produces Corona
 which is distributed in more than 
180 countries worldwide. She is
 considered one of the most 
influential Mexican women in the
 economic sector, serves on the
 Boards of several Mexican
 corporations, and also has a stake
in Grupo Televisa. She was the
 first woman to serve on the
 Mexican Stock Exchange (2003-2006) and as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the German company Siemens, Mexican division (2003 to 2006).

Josefina Vasquez Mota is a
 Mexican business woman and
 politician who was the presidential
 candidate of the National Action
 Party (PAN) for the 2012 elections.
Vázquez Mota was trained as an
 economist and began her working
 career in family businesses and
with various business
 organizations and conferences,
 also working as a journalist and
writing books. She began her
 political career with the PAN
 organization, becoming involved
 in Mexico’s federal Chamber of
 Deputies of Mexico and then in the
administrations of Vicente Fox
and Felipe Calderón. She was
 PAN’s first female candidate for president. She lost in 2012 to Mexico’s current president Enrique Peña Nieto.

Marisela Morales Ibáñez was the
 42nd Attorney General, and the 
first female to hold the position.
 She has been praised for her work 
by United States Secretary of State 
Hillary Clinton and First Lady
 Michelle Obama, and received the
 2011 International Women of
Courage Award. The American
 award is presented annually by
 the US Department of State to women around the world who have shown leadership, courage, resourcefulness and willingness to sacrifice for others, especially for better promotion of women’s rights.

Elba Esther Gordillo is president
 of the teacher’s union, the largest
one in Latin America she controls
 1.5 million union votes and
 dictates educational policy.
 Teacher strikes are very common
and Gordillo seems to be
 unsupportive of women’s issues
 and blames the abysmal state of
 education in Mexico on working
 mothers. She is possibly the most
publicly vilified high profile
 woman in Mexico. She is 
extremely ostentatious, sporting
$5,000 Hermes purses and once
 gave Hummers as gifts to loyal teachers. Newly elected Enrique Peña Nieto has pledged to negotiate with the union and to reform the system.

Lydia Cacho is a renowned award winning journalist and writer.
 She has been an outspoken advocate for women’s and children’s rights especially regarding victims of domestic and sexual violence, and human trafficking. Described by Amnesty International as “perhaps Mexico’s most famous investigative journalist and women’s rights advocate.” In 2004, her book Los Demonios del Edén created a nationwide scandal by alleging that several prominent businessmen had conspired to protect a pedophilia ring. As of August 2012 she has been in temporary self exile due to death threats.

Elena Poniatowska was born in 
Paris to a Mexican mother and a
 father descended from Polish
aristocrats, is an award winning
 Mexican writer, journalist, and
 activist. She and her mother fled
 the Nazi invasion of Europe,
 arriving in Mexico when she was 
just ten years old. Poniatowska
 has written stories, novels, plays,
and poetry. Her best known work
is La noche de Tlatelolco
(Massacre in Mexico) about the
 repression of the 1968 student
protests in Mexico City. Despite the lack of international recognition, she is considered to be “Mexico’s grande dame of letters” and is still an active writer.

Lorena Ochoa is a Mexican
 professional golfer who
 played on the U.S.-based
 LPGA Tour from 2003 to
 2010, and was the top-
ranked female golfer in the
 world for over three years,
 from April 2007 to her 
retirement in May 2010. As 
the first Mexican golfer of
either gender to be ranked
 number one in the world, she
 is considered the best
 Mexican golfer of all time.
 Since December 2004, the
 Lorena Ochoa Foundation 
has combined forces with
other associations dedicated mostly to education, helping hundreds of marginalized children to reach a balanced life through educational programs, sports, healthy living and self-esteem seminars.

Salma Hayek is a Mexican
 American film actress,
 director and producer. She
 began her career in Mexico
 starring in the telenovela
 Teresa. Hayek’s charitable
 work includes increasing
 awareness on violence
 against women and
 discrimination against 
immigrants. In 2005, Hayek
 testified before the U.S.
Senate Committee on the
 Judiciary supporting
reauthorizing the Violence
 Against Women Act. In
 February 2006, she donated
 $25,000 to a Coatzacoalcos,
 Mexico, shelter for battered women and another $50,000 to Monterrey based anti-domestic violence groups.

Paola Espinosa is an athlete from La Paz, Mexico. She competes in diving and represented Mexico at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and again at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, being her national team’s flagbearer in the latter. She won a bronze medal in the 10m Synchronized Platform with her partner Tatiana Ortiz. She qualified to participate in both platform events at the 2012 Summer Olympics. She won silver in 10m Synchronized platform at the 2012 Olympics.

Mariana Avitia is an athlete from Monterrey, Mexico who competes in archery. At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London Avitia finished third, doing the 2, 3 along with Aída Roman to win the first two medals for Mexico in the country’s Olympic archery history for both Male and Female.

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