Abigail Mejia

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Abigaíl Mejía Soliére
Ana Emilia Abigaíl Mejía Soliére

(1895-04-15)April 15, 1895
DiedMarch 15, 1941(1941-03-15) (aged 45)
OccupationEducator, activist, writer, museum director

Ana Emilia Abigaíl Mejia Soliere (April 15, 1895 – March 15, 1941) was a feminist activist, nationalist, literary critic and educator from the Dominican Republic. She completed her primary education at the Salome Ureña de Henríquez School for Girls and Liceo Dominicano. In 1912, she became a teacher in Barcelona where she resided with her family. She returned to the Dominican Republic in 1925 and became a professor of Literature, Pedagogy and History at the Superior Normal School of Santo Domingo. She is one of the leading figures of feminism in the Dominican Republic, founding the Club Nosotras in 1927 and Acción Feminista. [1]

Teacher person who helps others to acquire knowledge, competences or values

A teacher is a person who helps others to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

Barcelona City and municipality in Catalonia, Spain

Barcelona is a city in Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within city limits, its urban area extends to numerous neighbouring municipalities within the Province of Barcelona and is home to around 4.8 million people, making it the sixth most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, London, Madrid, the Ruhr area and Milan. It is one of the largest metropolises on the Mediterranean Sea, located on the coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs, and bounded to the west by the Serra de Collserola mountain range, the tallest peak of which is 512 metres high.

Professor academic rank at universities and other post-secondary education and research institutions in most countries

Professor is an academic rank at universities and other post-secondary education and research institutions in most countries. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences, a teacher of the highest rank.


Early life

Abigaíl Mejía was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on April 15, 1895. She was born into a family of middle-class intellectuals who influenced and nurtured her own future as an intellectual. [2] Mejía completed primary school at the all-women's academy, Salomé Ureña de Henríquez, and at the Liceo Dominicano. [2] While Mejía was still young, her family moved to Barcelona where she obtained a degree from normal school in 1919. [2] [3] </ref> She returned to Santo Domingo for a brief period of time that same year and then moved back to Barcelona in 1921. [2]

Normal school educational institution to train teachers

A normal school is the historical term for an institution created to train high school graduates to be teachers by educating them in the norms of pedagogy and curriculum. Most such schools, where they still exist, are now denominated "teacher-training colleges" or "teachers' colleges" and may be organized as part of a comprehensive university. Normal schools in the United States and Canada trained teachers for primary schools, while in continental Europe, the equivalent colleges educated teachers for primary, secondary and tertiary schools.

In 1925, Mejía permanently settled in Santo Domingo where she worked as a professor of Spanish language and literature at the Escuela Normal Superior de Santo Domingo. [2] It was during this time that she began her work with the feminist movement in the Dominican Republic heavily influenced by her encounters with feminist thought in Europe, particularly in metropolitan cities like Barcelona and Paris. [2] [3] During her time in Barcelona, Mejía developed friendships with pioneers of the literary and feminist movements in Spain, including Concha Espina (Santander, 1869-Madrid, 1955), Blanca de los Ríos (Sevilla, 1862-1956), and Emilia Pardo Bazán (La Coruña, 1852-Madrid, 1851-1921) and these relationships influenced her work in the Dominican Republic. [4]

A variety of movements of feminist ideology have developed over the years. They vary in goals, strategies, and affiliations. They often overlap, and some feminists identify themselves with several branches of feminist thought.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

Concha Espina Spanish writer

María de la Concepción Jesusa Basilisa Rodríguez-Espina y García-Tagle, short form Concha Espina, was a Spanish writer. She was nominated for a Nobel prize in literature twenty five times in nine years.


Feminist activism

Mejía is considered a pioneer of feminism and the feminist movement in the Dominican Republic. She and her contemporary, Delia Weber, co-founded Club Nosotras (initially a literary organization formed in 1927) as well as the "Nosotras y Acción Feministas" movements in 1927 aimed at the training and education of poor women in the country. [2] Club Nosotras was reorganized in 1931 with more explicitly political goals under the name Acción Feminista Dominicana (AFD). [2] Mejía served as director general and Weber as secretary-general of the AFD, which became the most important feminist group of the era uniting mostly intellectual, middle to upper class women from provinces across the nation. [5] [2] Some of the AFD's members included school teachers and writers such as Minerva Bernardino, Celeste Wos y Gil, Carmita Landestoy, Consuelo Bernardino, and Carmen Lara Fernandez. [6] The AFD mobilized to "fight for the vindication of women's rights," particularly women's suffrage, but they likewise focused on penal facility reform, alcoholism, prostitution, illegal drugs, and other social welfare concerns. [2] [6]

Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the genders. This includes fighting gender stereotypes and seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to those for men.

Delia Weber

Delia Weber was an Afro-Dominican teacher, artist, poet and film actress, as well as a feminist and supporter of women's suffrage. Through her writing and painting, she portrayed the world in which she lived and the restrictions placed upon her life. Founding several cultural and feminist clubs, Weber successfully navigated the Trujillo years, helping to gain both civil and political rights for women.

Minerva Bernardino was a diplomat from the Dominican Republic who promoted women's rights internationally, and is best known as one of the four women to sign the original charter of the United Nations.

It was around the time of the AFD's establishment that President Rafael Trujillo took office. Mejía and other members of the AFD led the group to closer ties with Trujillo in hope of attaining women's suffrage, which Trujillo suspected would popularize his regime. [7] The AFD thus began to openly support Trujillo and Mejía even referred to him as "el presidente feminista" or "the feminist president" in a 1932 speech. [2] Two years later, a "voto de ensayo," roughly translated to "trial vote," was held so women could vote to reform the Dominican constitution to include women's suffrage. [2] The results revealed that most women who voted, including Mejía, wanted to reform the constitution but as Trujillo rose to power, the topic of women's suffrage was not recognized by the government until years later. [2]

Rafael Trujillo President of the Dominican Republic

Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina, nicknamed El Jefe, was a Dominican politician, soldier and dictator, who ruled the Dominican Republic from February 1930 until his assassination in May 1961. He served as president from 1930 to 1938 and again from 1942 to 1952, ruling for the rest of the time as an unelected military strongman under figurehead presidents. His 31 years in power, to Dominicans known as the Trujillo Era, are considered one of the bloodiest eras ever in the Americas, as well as a time of a personality cult, when monuments to Trujillo were in abundance. Trujillo and his regime were responsible for many deaths, including between 20,000 and 30,000 Haitians in the infamous Parsley massacre.

Constitution of the Dominican Republic supreme law of the Dominica Republic

The Dominican Republic has gone through 39 constitutions, more than any other country, since its independence in 1844. This statistic is a somewhat deceiving indicator of political stability, however, because of the Dominican practice of promulgating a new constitution whenever an amendment was ratified. Although technically different from each other in some particular provisions, most new constitutions contained in reality only minor modifications of those previously in effect. Sweeping constitutional innovations were actually relatively rare.

Women's suffrage in the Dominican Republic was not achieved until ten years later in 1942. By this time, the AFD had been coopted as an organization in support of Trujillo and some members of the AFD became known "damas trujillistas" or female supporters of Trujillo. [2] The AFD was employed as a tool to normalize women's submissive role in society by exalting socio-political passivity as synonymous with righteousness and good citizenship in accordance with the regime. [8]

Women in the Dominican Republic

Women in the Dominican Republic have equal constitutional rights as men in the economic, political, cultural and social fields, as well as in the family. Their character has been defined by their history, culture, tradition and experience.

Arts and culture

In 1926, Mejía published the "Plan on the Establishment of a National Museum in Santo Domingo" in Francisco A. Palau's journal, Black and White, which included reflections on experiences and observations from visiting the Prado, the Louvre, and the Pinacoteca in the Vatican. [2] Trujillo appointed Mejía director of the Museo Nacional in 1933 and she was responsible for starting and running the institution. [3] [9]

Apart from her contributions to arts and culture via the Museo Nacional, Mejía is also known as the pioneer of a female gaze in photography in the Dominican Republic. [4] She mainly recorded observations from her many trips using a Vest Pocket Kodak. [4] Her photographs were published in a 1925 article for La Opinión, Revista Semanal Ilustrada (Year III, Vol. 15, 139 (3-IX-1925))in Santo Domingo, marking the first time ever in Dominican history where a woman's' photographs were published in a printed source. [4]

Writings and speeches

Throughout her life, Mejía published articles in various national and international newspapers/magazines on a range of topics including women, literature, travel, and the Dominican Republic. [6] Mejía wrote her first and only novel, Sueña Pilarín (1925), in Barcelona, a novel focused on the affective relationships between women as a vehicle to solidarity. [6] Dominican author, Virgilio Díaz Grullón, writes of Sueña Pilarín (translated from Spanish):

It narrates with sweet and simple language, at times filled with humor, the story of a young girl from Dominican origins, but born and raised in Spain, who lives intense episodes in a tragedy-filled life that begins with her becoming an orphan, then suffering the pain of an adoption imposed on her, suffering the severity of living in a convent, battling an incestuous relationship and finally, finding love with a passionate, young Dominican man and ultimately finding the happiness life had cruelly denied her. [10]

Mejía presented various speeches and conferences. Her public entrance into the Dominican feminist movement was the presentation of her speech, "Feminismo," in Santo Domingo in 1926. [6] She also wrote the first history of Dominican literature in 1937 which was later published in 1939. [3]

Death and legacy

Mejía worked as a writer and director of the Museo Nacional until her death on March 15, 1941. [2] She produced various texts and held different positions of power throughout her life, but did not live to see the legal reforms for full civil and political rights for women in the Dominican Republic. [3]

Selected works

See also

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  1. "Abigail Mejía". republica-dominicana-live.com (in Spanish). República Dominica LIVE. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Fernandez-Asenjo, Maria-Mercedes (2015-01-01). De maestras normalistas a 'damas trujillistas': El feminismo Dominicano, 1915-1946 (Thesis). ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Zeller, Neici (2010-01-01). The Appearance of All, the Reality of Nothing Politics and Gender in the Dominican Republic, 1880-1961 (Thesis). ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Abigaíl Mejía: pionera del arte fotográfico con mirada de mujer". Acento (in Spanish). 2014-06-30. Retrieved 2017-04-28.
  5. Candelario, Ginetta E. B. (2016). "Weber, Delia (1900–1982)". In Knight, Franklin W.; Gates, Jr, Henry Louis (eds.). Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro–Latin American Biography. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. ISBN   978-0-199-93580-2.  via  Oxford University Press 's Reference Online (subscription required)
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Manley, Elizabeth (2008-01-01). Poner un grano de arena: Gender and women's political participation under authoritarian rule in the Dominican Republic, 1928–1978 (Thesis). ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.
  7. Mayes, April J. (2014). The Mulatto Republic: class, race, and Dominican national identity. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida. pp. 136–137. ISBN   978-0-813-04867-3 via Project MUSE. (Subscription required (help)).Cite uses deprecated parameter |subscription= (help)
  8. Marivi, Arregui, (1988-03-01). "Trayectoria del feminismo en la República Dominicana".
  9. Candelario, Ginetta EB (2007). Black behind the Ears: Dominican Racial Identity from Museums to Beauty Shops. Durham: Duke University Press. ISBN   0822340372.
  10. "Sueña Pilarín | Las Mujeres más destacadas de República Dominicana". balanzalegal.com (in Spanish). Retrieved 2017-04-28.