The Lioness Project: Rigoberta Menchú

I’ve decided to start a weekly drawing project here—something fun, something challenging that requires a bit of research, something inspiring and even maybe positive at a time when the only news seems to be bad news. With all of the terrible legislation coming out of the new administration here in the US, it’s easy to feel helpless.

I wanted to surround myself with lionesses. I began a list of remarkable women throughout history: warrior-women, scientists, artists, athletes, leaders, and activists. There are SO MANY. And so many that I had no awareness of! I just wanted to start telling people about them.

So that’s what I am going to do.

I now have a jar full of little slips of paper with the names of remarkable women on them: women from all around the world, ranging from 630 BC to present day. Every week, I will pull a name, draw a picture, and share a little info.

And so, our first Lioness:

“We are not myths of the past, ruins in the jungle,
or zoos.  We are people and we want to be respected,
not to be victims of intolerance and racism.”
—Rigoberta Menchú

Rigoberta Menchù

Rigoberta Menchú received the Nobel Prize in 1992 for fighting against the genocide of the indigenous Maya people during the Guatemalan Civil War (1960-1996). Using “forced disappearances” and the massacre of entire villages, the Guatemalan government killed or “disappeared” an estimated 200,000 civilians.

Rigoberta was born to a poor, indigenous Quiché Maya family, and became active in social reform during her teens. After government forces tortured and killed her family, she redoubled her efforts. She organized strikes and protests and worked to educate the indigenous population in resistance to government oppression.  She fled to Mexico in 1981, and in her exile she became a prominent voice for her people’s struggle. In 1983, she dictated her story, published as I, Rigoberta Menchú, which drew international attention to the massive human rights abuses. After the war ended, she campaigned to have the Guatemalan political and military leaders tried by the Spanish courts. She has since become a leading advocate for the rights of women and indigenous people.

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