Thursday, May 07, 2009
Georgina Fletcher -- Women's Rights Activist
Though Georgina Fletcher is considered a Colombian heroine, she was actually born in Spain. However, she spent almost her entire life in Bogotá. She was a writer, artist, and educator. In 1924, she was chosen as the Colombian representative to the International League of Iberian and Hispanic American Women (Liga Internacional de Mujeres Ibéricas e Hispanoamericanas) and to the Crusade of Spanish Women (Cruzada de Mujeres Españolas). After attending the international meetings of these two groups, she organized a Colombian association of the League.
She went on to participate in the Second Pan American Women's Conference (Conferencia Panamericana de Mujeres) which was held in Lima, Peru (1924). In addition, she attended other International Women's conferences and was in correspondence with other Latin American suffragists and feminists. She tirelessly spoke out for women's rights, though little of what she said found an accepting audience and most politicians were vehemently against extending any rights to women.
In most countries, women historically were not allowed to own property. This was true in Colombia also. In an effort to change this, a group of women, lead by Georgina Fletcher, presented a request to change Colombian law with respect to this issue. The group hoped that by changing the law women would be allowed to administer their own material affairs, rather than relying on a husband, father, brother, or male guardian to do so for them.
Their request, known as the Régimen de Capitulaciones Matrimoniales (Rules for the Articles of Marriage), was presented to Colombian President (1930-1934) Enrique Olaya Herrera in December of 1930 by Ofelia Uribe de Acosta. It was immediately rejected and criticized by the newspapers and leading congressmen of the day.
Georgina Fletcher was identified as the leader of the group and as such, she was highly criticized and persecuted. In the face of extreme persecution, she isolated herself from society and died a few years later in a state of extreme poverty, having lost everything in pursuit of her dream.
Fortunately, despite the hatred people felt toward Georgina, when the initiative was again presented, just two years later, in 1932, it was passed into law (Law #28 of 1932). Once this law passed, there was, in the ensuing years, a cascade of pro-women's rights legislation, and many of the rights and liberties that Colombian women enjoy today have their roots in the efforts of Georgina Fletcher.