>> Monday, March 8, 2010
From a book review by Rekha Basu in The Des Moines Register:
The first female mayor of her Mexican city was overcome with shyness before becoming a forceful public speaker.
The farmer creating a community garden had to fight rumors she was planning a house of prostitution.
The first woman theater director faced stereotypes about women in theater being immoral, crazy, lesbian.
Those are just three of the people profiled in “Women of Yucatan: Thirty Who Dare to Change Their World,” (McFarland & Co.) by George Ann Huck and Jann Freed of Central College in Pella. Others fought to bring electricity or water to their village, stood up for the rights of Guatemalan refugees, lobbied for contraception, and started a school for children with Down syndrome. One challenged the view that people in wheelchairs shouldn’t go out, much less compete in sports.
It’s a book that speaks to the commonality of women’s experiences globally — and is a good gift for a woman you care about on International Women’s Day (Monday).
While younger readers may be shocked at patriarchal traditions that endure in Yucatan, older ones will have “Aha” moments about similar struggles American women faced, or still do.
As Ana Rosa Payan, Merida’s first female mayor, says, “When we attempt to bring forward women’s issues, they say, ‘Oh no, not the woman thing again!... As we move forward, we take up spaces they had before.’” Physician Sandra Peniche observed of government programs for women, “We can all participate behind men, or for men, but we can’t participate on our own.”