Women Soldiers of the Mexican Revolution
By Mary Norquist
Men alone did not fight the Mexican Revolution. The role of women in the Mexican Revolution can be seen throughout the uprising in two major roles: and the intellectuals. Las Soldaderas, or women soldiers, the soldaderas were those who not only fought on the front lines, but also worked as nurses, cooks, spies, and messengers. Some of these women took the positions of their deceased husbands. In order to preserve their woman-like characteristics they wore plundered finery: silk stockings dresses, sandals, and straw hats, but their gun belts were never forgotten. Their fearful combat terrorized Federales and haciendas in the region, and even veteran Zapatista commanders treated them with respect. They showed the same courage as their male counterparts and were as important in the winning of battles.
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Hacienda de los Flores
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Aldama 3, Café Monet, and
La Tienda at La Biblioteca, Insurgentes 25
They had difficulties acquiring horses. An officer in the army would not give a female soldier a horse over a male, so if they joined an army not under disguise as a male, they would need have enough money to own a horse. Other women spoke in deep voices, wore men’s clothing, and wrapped their breasts tightly to disguise themselves. The most obvious role they had was to fight against the male soldiers in battles. However, that was not all. One task they performed was to spy on enemy armies. They would dress up like proper women and join the camp followers of an enemy army to try and gain inside information. They would also be given important information to relay between generals of the same army.
In addition to Las Soldaderas, the intellectuals were mainly composed of women from the higher economic strata. The group was composed of teachers and educated women. They also created a feminist organization that supported the “apostle of democracy,” Francisco Ignacio Madero González. He was a Mexican statesman, writer, and revolutionary who was elected 33rd president of Mexico, serving from 1911 until his assassination in 1913. He was an advocate for social justice and democracy. The focus of the Intellectuals was mainly political, and their aim was to improve the lives of indigenous races, unify revolutionary forces, and elevate women economically, morally, and intellectually. What they wanted the most was a place in the political arena and for their open-minded ideas to be spread throughout Mexico. Although not considered “peaceful,” the Intellectuals had a different tactic from Las Soldaderas. They believed that with the use of the mind they would obtain better results than physical fighting. Together, both of these groups helped to open the minds of Mexican men to the rights deserved by Mexican women.
Mujeres en Cambio is a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships to underserved young women in the rural areas surrounding San Miguel de Allende.