In this post: Discover how these inspiring and famous Latinas made history for their contributions and talents.

Throughout history, many famous Latinas have made significant contributions to society.

Some have led liberation movements in their own countries, or worked toward equality and justice in the US, while others have been artists, scientists, and writers who have left their indelible mark on society all over the world.

photos and portraits of famous Latina women

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Why is it important to learn about famous Latinas? 

When studying a language, such as Spanish, it is also important to learn about the people who embody the cultures where that language is Spoken.

Since Spanish is spoken in so many countries, our list of famous Latinas in history includes many women from different parts of Latin America, and many from the U.S.

Teaching our children about Hispanic/Latino heritage and about inspiring Latinas who were able to make an impact on the world is just one more way of integrating their education so that they become citizens of the world! 

To provide your child with a fully-integrated Spanish language curriculum that not only teaches them Spanish but also introduces them to Hispanic and Latino culture, check out our Llamitas Spanish Curriculum, which provides an interactive, well-rounded education with lots of extras.

Llamitas Spanish curriculum family

15 Influential and Famous Latinas

Sor Juana Inéz de la Cruz (Mexico, 1648 – 1695) 

Known as the first feminist in Latin America, Sor Juana Inéz was a nun who was also a self-taught scholar, poet, playwright, and composer.

In her writings, she stood up against the sexist gender roles of her time and called for equality between men and women. To this day, her writings are relevant documents of historical discrimination against women, and they continue to inspire the feminists of today. 

Gabriela Mistral (Chile 1889 – 1957)

Gabriela Mistral was the pseudonym of Chilean poet Lucila Godoy Alcayaga, who in 1945 became the first Latin American author to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature.

Gabriela was also an educator, teaching at various universities. She was active in the League of Nations, and was appointed as Chilean consul in Naples, Madrid, and Lisbon. 

Frida Kahlo (Mexico, 1907-1954) 

Perhaps the best-known Latina artist in the world, Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter who was known for her surrealist self-portraits and paintings that celebrate traditional Mexican culture.

Frida took to painting after an accident in her youth left her disabled, and, along with her husband Diego Rivera, who was also a famous painter, fought for the rights of workers in Mexico.

Our beautiful unit on Frida Kahlo introduces children to this visionary artist and her legendary work. 

Frida Kahlo picture

Related Post: Frida Kahlo Lesson and Activities

Virginia Brindis de Salas (Uruguay, 1908-1958)

Virginia Brindis de Salas was a poet from Uruguay and the first Black woman in Latin America to ever publish a book.

Her book was titled Pregón de Marimorena (The Call of Mary Morena) and was published in 1947. Her book was about the problems plaguing the Black community in Uruguay, and especially about the exploitation and discrimination against Black women.

Related Post: Spanish Poetry Books for Kids

Eva Perón (Argentina, 1919 – 1952)

Eva Perón was the wife of Argentine President Juan Perón and was beloved by the people of Argentina who always referred to her as “Evita.”

Evita was an active supporter of trade unions and labor rights, as well as women’s suffrage. She became the head of the country’s Ministries of Labor and Health, and founded Argentina’s first major female political party, known as the Women’s Peronist Party.

Evita served as the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death at the young age of 33 in 1952. She is still remembered fondly by the people of Argentina and several films have been made about her life.

Celia Cruz (Cuba, 1925 – 2003)

Over the course of 60 years, this popular Cuban singer helped to popularize the lively salsa music of her culture, with its Afro-Cuban roots, in the United States, which also helped to bridge cultural gaps between Latinos and African Americans in the US.

Eventually, Celia became popular all over the world. One of the most beloved Latino/Hispanic artists of her time, Celia Cruz appeared on programs such as Sesame Street, and became wildly popular among audiences from all cultures, performing in countries such as Sweden and Japan.

Helen Rodríguez Trías (USA, 1929-2001)  

Helen Rodriguez Trías was an educator and pediatrician from New York, born to Puerto Rican parents.

She was an activist for women’s rights and the first Hispanic president of the American Public Health Association, who worked tirelessly to improve health services for women, children, and people infected with HIV/AIDS, not only in the U.S. but also in many marginalized areas of Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

Dolores Huerta (USA, 1930 – )

Dolores Huerta famous latina
Source: Flickr

Dolores Huerta was one of the founders, along with César Chávez, of the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW), an organization that fought for the rights and fair treatment of farm labor workers.

She also helped to enact the Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, which helped farmers in California get better wages and working conditions.

Her activism later began to also include gender discrimination both in general society and within the farmworker movement. Dolores Huerta is now in her 90’s and continues to support the fight for women’s rights.

Carolina Herrera (Venezuela, 1939 – )

Carolina Herrera is a world-famous fashion designer with a very celebrated career. She is famous for her gorgeous evening gowns, many of which have been designed for First Ladies, such as Jacqueline Onassis, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama.

Isabel Allende (Chile, 1942 – )

Isabel Allende is a world-famous author and journalist who is known as the first woman author from Latin America to become internationally successful.

She has written dozens of books, which have been translated into 30 languages, and sold over 51 million copies, making her an influential writer for readers all over the world.

Rita Moreno (Puerto Rico, 1943 – )

Rita Moreno is a Puerto Rican actress, dancer and entertainer, and one of the very few stars in show business to have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, known as the EGOT. Rita’s career spans over 70 years, and she is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Sonia Sotomayor (USA, 1954 – ) 

Sonia made history in 2009 when she became the first woman of color, as well as the first Hispanic, to be appointed as a Supreme Court Justice of the United States.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, to a Puerto Rican family, she studied at Princeton and Yale universities, and was involved in Latino activism during her college years before going on to become an attorney and a judge.

Sonia has spent over 40 years advocating and fighting for the rights of women, the Hispanic community, and other minority groups.

Dr. Ellen Ochoa (USA, 1958-) 

Dr. Ellen Ochoa is a US-born astronaut, and the first Hispanic woman to ever travel to space and to be awarded the Exceptional Service Medal by NASA, as well as being inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Dr. Ochoa was born in Los Angeles, California to a Mexican-American family descended from Sonora. She became an astronaut in 1989 and, in 1993, made history as the first Hispanic woman to travel to space. She later went back on three additional space missions.

Rigoberta Menchú (Guatemala, 1959 – )

Rigoberta Menchú is a K’iche’ Guatemalan human rights activist, feminist, who works tirelessly to fight for the rights of Indigenous people in Latin America and internationally, and to uplift and educate her community in Guatemala.

She was recognized for her social justice work when she was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.

Selena Quintanilla (USA, 1971 – 1995)

selena quintanilla famous latina singer

One of the most popular Latina musical artists in history, known as the Queen of Tejano Music, Selena Quintanilla (known simply as Selena) was a Chicana artist from a Mexican-American family who specialized in Tejano music from the region along the border between Mexico and Texas.

Selena became an international idol and spread the popularity of Tejano music far and wide around the world before her life was abruptly cut short when she was murdered by the president of her fan club at the tender age of 24. 

To help your child learn more about Hispanic/Latino culture and ways to integrate the Spanish language into daily life, check out our Spanish curriculum shop!

Llamitas Spanish Elementary level Curriculum