Google Doodle celebrates the 155th birthday of Argentine physician Petrona Eyle, a women’s activist (feminist) who campaigned for Latin American women’s rights, on January 18, 2021.
Who was Petrona Eyle?
Petrona Eyle was born on January 18, 1866, in Baradero in the Argentine province of Buenos Aires.
She acquired a teaching degree in 1879 and afterward traveled to Switzerland to study medicine at the University of Zurich, the first European university to allow female students.
In 1886, Petrona Eyle graduated from the Colegio Nacional de Concepción del Uruguay and got the degree of Maestra normal. Today, a wing of the library there is named after Eyle. In 1887, Eyle went to Switzerland, where she went to medical school.
Following Petrona Eyle’s graduation in 1891, she moved back to Argentina and made history when she revalidated her degree to officially become a doctor in the nation. Her thesis, written in German and English, was named “Anomalies of the ears of criminals” (“Anomalías de las orejas de los delincuentes”).
Simultaneously, Petrona Eyle dedicated herself to the improvement of women’s lives through her association with a variety of forward-looking associations. She helped to establish the Association of University Women, a pioneering Argentinian feminist association that battled for equivalent lawful and social rights.
In 1893, Petrona Eyle got back to Argentina, where she worked in public hospitals. There, she started her career as a feminist activist, campaigning for improving the circumstance of women. Such was the male control of Argentine society that her activism was not generally received even by most women.
Taking advantage of the centennial celebrations of the May Revolution in 1910, Eyle likewise coordinated the First International Feminist Congress (Primer Congreso Feminista Internacional), which was held in Buenos Aires in 1910.
An essayist also, in the late 1910s Petrona Eyle established the magazine Nuestra Causa (Our Cause), in which she contended intensely for women’s right to vote.
Petrona Eyle organized the Argentine Council of Women (Consejo Argentino de Mujeres) in 1901 and the Association of Women Argentine University Students (Asociación Universitarias Argentinas) in 1910 with Cecilia Grierson.
The Association of Women Argentine University Students proposed various laws in congress, on topics, for example, the Protection of Motherhood in 1903, Health and Welfare in 1906, Retirement of Teachers in 1907, and Equal Civil Rights for Women in 1919.
In 1924, Petrona Eyle established the League Against White Slavery (Liga contra la Trata de Blancas). At that point, the League of Nations had started to take on the issue of human trafficking with an international conference on the topic of “white slavery”. (The name of the League of Nations project was later changed to be racially neutral.)
Petrona Eyle, as president of the League, campaigned for the rights of children, specifically as far as exploitative work and early pregnancies coming about because of sexual abuse or prostitution.
In 1945, she began the magazine Our Cause (Nuestra causa) and became its first director. Through this publication, she campaigned for the right of women to vote, be effectively engaged with politics, and hold public office.
After two years, in 1947, Argentine women indeed acquired the right to vote. In 1947, Argentina allowed ladies that right, thanks in no little part to Petrona Eyle and the women’s suffrage movement to which she contributed for the duration of her life.
A road in the Puerto Madero neighborhood of Buenos Aires is named in Petrona Eyle’s honor.