Biography of Zoila Aurora Cáceres (1877-1958)

Zoila Aurora Cáceres writer was one of the first and most prominent feminists of the Peru in the first half of the 20th century. His commitment to the defence of the rights of women had greater impact on Peruvian society to his literary work. Recent literary criticism only considers their campaign of the Breña historical narrative that recounts memories of his father, ex-President of the Republic; the rest of his work is considered level very low. Despite this, the importance of Zoila Aurora in Peruvian history is closely linked to its intellectual and pragmatic, initiative both at the start of the Peruvian women's movement and the Trade Union of workers.

Zoila Aurora was born in Lima on March 29, 1877. It was daughter of Marshal Andrés Avelino Cáceres and Antonia Moreno. Girl witnessed the Pacific war, which broke out in 1879 and lasted until 1884. Then, Chilean and Peruvian troops clashed in violent battles. The father of Zoila Aurora had an outstanding performance in the campaign of resistance against the Chilean invasion, and promoted by such success, two years after the war became President of the Republic, leading the Constitutionalist Party. When subsequently, between 1891 and 1892, he/she served as Minister Plenipotentiary to England and France, Zoila Aurora had the opportunity to study in Europe, where would receive the first inspirations of the modern conception of the role of women that characterized his writings and policy proposals.

In 1902, after a stay of four years with his father in Argentina, Zoila Aurora received the diploma of the school of high studies social of the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1905, back in Lima and inspired by feminist ideas he/she had met in Europe, founded a cultural and humanitarian society called "Social Center of ladies". The purpose of this society was to establish different schools for poor women: a high school, a preparatory section's first teaching, a commercial and a domestic school. The instruction - the conception of this society – sought to be very practical, so that young women could perform successfully in the workplace.

Zoila Aurora was proposed to fight the prejudice that work was undignified for women from impoverished decent families. The project was unfinished when Zoila Aurora traveled again to France to continue his studies. In Paris he/she started in journalism and under the pseudonym "Evangelina" wrote a series of Chronicles and sent them to the Lima newspaper "El Comercio" for publication.

At the same time his journalistic activity, his intellectual activity continued to grow through their participation in study groups and discussion at the Sorbonne, where in 1908 became especially well known for its qualities of strong speaker. In 1909 he/she published in Paris his first literary work, women of yesterday and today. In the same year he/she founded the "Union literary of countries Latinos". During those years he/she met the modernist writer Guatemalan Enrique Gómez Carrillo, whom he/she married, marriage that failed in a short time. Zoila Aurora seceded from Henry and moved to Italy and Germany along with his father, who was the representative of Peru.

In 1911, Zoila Aurora returned to his hometown. This same year he/she was invited to give a lecture on the "Confederation of artisans Union Universal", where he/she spoke about the importance of greater efficiency in the Organization of working-class struggle. The Peruvian proletariat was agitated in recent years: in 1911 was the first general strike, and in the following years several trade unions organized strikes of great impact. However, the labor movement failed to major changes in the situation of the workers. His condition worsened after the first world war, when a keeps rising caused by shortages of basic foods.

A new working organization, the "Committee Pro-Abaratamiento of the keeps" which, as its name suggests, proposed policy measures which promote the low cost of living in defense of the proletariat was founded in April of 1919. One month after the founding of the Organization, it was decided to perform a female Assembly, which took place on May 22, 1919. Several Lima feminists gave lectures with strong social criticism. At the end of the session, the Secretary general of the "Committee Pro-Abaratamiento las keeps" read a letter from Zoila Aurora. It proposed the Organization of a female demonstration against hunger. The proposal was accepted unanimously, and on May 25, 1919 was the "Meeting of the hungry women", which was led by another great Peruvian feminist: Miguelina Acosta Cardenas.

Apart from these isolated contributions, Zoila Aurora did not perform constant in the development of the Peruvian labor movement. Their concerns focused on topics related to the situation of women. In September 1924 he/she founded the Organization "Feminism Peruano". The program of principles of the organization claimed for women the right to citizenship, the right to active and passive suffrage, political and reform of the Civil Code of 1851, which contained articles submitted to married women to the authority of the spouses. Only three months after the publication of the program of principles already existed several provincial delegations of "Feminism Peruano". After having chaired the Organization for one year, Zoila Aurora traveled again to Europe, bound by its strong contradictions with the Government of President Augusto B. Leguía.

During this new sojourn in Europe, he/she published his most important literary works. Oasis of art, a set of Chronicles of his travels, which was prefaced by the Nicaraguan modernist poet Rubén Darío and highly praised by the Spanish philosopher Miguel Unamuno and "The city of the Sun", where Zoila Aurora describes his impressions on Cuzco. In 1929 he/she published a volume of Peruvian stories entitled "La Princess Sumac Tica" and memories of their short marriage, "My life with Enrique Gómez Carrillo". Its unique two novels-"La rosa muerta" and "Pink pearls" were published in the following year.

When Zoila Aurora received the news that the Commander Luis M. Sánchez Cerro had overthrown the dictator Leguía in 1930, he/she immediately returned to Lima. In November of the same year he/she reactivated his organization "Peruvian feminism", but this time attaching his initials "Z.A.C.", since the Association denied him the lifetime Presidency. In the program of principles, published in January, 1931, "Feminism Peruvian Z.A.C." continued claiming the same principles that work in 1924, which added to the demand for equal pay for women and men alike.

From the year 1930 December to December of the year 1931, "Feminism Peruvian Z.A.C." insisted on the campaign for the achievement of the right of suffrage for women. Through letters addressed to Luis M. Sánchez Cerro, then President of the military Junta that ruled the country, publications in different newspapers and manifestos, Zoila Aurora sought in Lima and provinces support for this campaign. Although Sánchez Cerro advocated universal suffrage, the constituent Assembly rejected it in January 1932. The right to vote and stand in municipal, right level which entered into force with the new Constitution of 1933 was only granted women.

Without a doubt, 'Feminism Peruvian Z.A.C.' main concern was the campaign for female voting rights. But doing so meant that the Organization would not provide support to women seeking other needs. In June 1931, the dispatchers of Lima sent a letter to Zoila Aurora complaining about working conditions and asking her to support them in a strike. On August 25, 1931 was proclaimed in Lima first telephone operators strike. From the beginning, Zoila Aurora was the Coordinator of the strike. He/She got a special delegation to investigate the working conditions of telephone operators, drew up the list of demands of them, founded the Union of telephone operators and published in the Lima newspaper "El Comercio" several articles defending the strikers. The strike ended at the end of September 1931, as the telephone company was finally pressed to improve the condition of work of their employees.

In November of the same year, Zoila Aurora invited, through an article published in "El Comercio", all the seamstresses of the State for a meeting in which benefit is a Union. This Union only ran until January 1932. At the end of that year, Zoila Aurora in an extraordinary meeting of "Feminism Peruvian Z.A.C." read his memoirs, in which he/she summarized the activities of the organization. A day after Parliament traveled again to Europe. Until Zoila Aurora returned to Lima at the end of the year 1936, the Organization was temporarily chaired. During this period, "Feminism Peruvian Z.A.C." was especially commissioned distributing feminist propaganda material and publish articles of protest against the Civil war in Spain.

In 1938, Zoila Aurora helped the Foundation of the "Association national writers and artists" in Lima. The "first Congress of women", in which Zoila Aurora continued advocating women's suffrage, was held in Lima in October of the same year. This month, the principles of "Feminism Peruvian Z.A.C." program was renewed, as had been already met most of the demands. Although the civil rights of women were not yet equal that of males, their civil status had improved considerably with the new Civil Code of 1936. Claims of equal political rights and equal pay for equal work were kept in the new program of principles.

The last feminist activity of Zoila Aurora was in 1942, when he/she participated as a Peruvian delegate at the "inter-American Commission of women" in Washington. Zoila Aurora lived his final years in Madrid, where he/she died on February 14, 1958.


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