In the early 1970s, a group of women in Chicago realized the challenges facing Latina women as the city’s Latino, and largely immigrant, population continued to grow.
This tenacious group of women leveraged their resources, tapped their creativity, and battled politics, social stigmas, and even personal threats to create Mujeres Latinas en Acción. The organization was run by volunteers for two years, until it received its first formal funding in 1975. To pay the bills in the little storefront that housed its programs, the women of Mujeres held monthly ‘rent parties’.
Decades later, Mujeres Latinas en Acción has become the longest-standing Latina organization in the country, serving to empower Latinas through services which reflect their values and culture, and advocating on the issues that make a difference in their lives.
The agency serves as a beacon for Latinas and their families, serving over 8,000 community residents annually. Mujeres services include: after school programs for youth and teens; parent support programs; counseling, crisis intervention, and court advocacy for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault; court supervised visitation for non-custodial parents; referrals to medical and financial support resources for women in need; and leadership development programs.
“Our goal at Mujeres is not just to provide services and resources to the women and families we serve, but to empower them…we want each individual to walk out of our doors with a sense of self-worth, dignity, and leadership skills that enable them to make a difference in their own lives, as well as in the community,” Maria S. Pesqueira, CEO.
Mujeres works as an advocate for Latinas on a daily basis, appearing before decision and policy makers to serve as a voice for Chicago’s Latinas on issues including immigration, access to healthcare and education, and reproductive rights.
Working in partnership with community and governmental organizations, Mujeres works on a local, national and even international level to create social justice for Latinas.
As Chicago’s Latino community grows, so do the needs of Latinas.
In the words of one of the founding members of Mujeres Latinas en Acción, the late Maria Mangual:
“Our fighting days are not behind us – but once again ahead of us. It will require cross-generational efforts… We need to ensure that we remain vigilant to protect the rights of our daughters and granddaughters…”
Mujeres Latinas en Acción will continue serving as the voice to advocate for, and to empower Chicago area Latinas and their families for decades to come.