Female vote: How was the first time women were able to vote in Argentina?
More than 68 years after the day women were able to vote in the country for the first time, we spoke with María Eugenia Álvarez, Evita’s personal nurse, and Beatriz Baliñas, a censist delegate in the province of Buenos Aires. I know their stories.
Although the law guaranteeing women’s suffrage was enacted in 1947, real access to the ballot box was delayed four years. Throughout this process, women’s participation in the public sphere and in the Argentine political scene grew like a whirlwind.
On 11 November 1951, after four years of intense registration campaign, more than 3,500,000 women voted in the country for the first time.
Beatriz Baliñas was a censist delegate in the province of Buenos Aires, and María Eugenia Álvarez, regent of the School of Nursing and personal nurse of Eva Perón. Very young women who, almost without realizing it, were protagonists of a key historical period linked to the participation of their gender in the political scene. These are their stories.
Beatriz, the Census Delegate
Before, during and after the adoption of Law 13,010, a structure supported by women was deployed that sealed one of the ways of doing politics from the foundations of Peronism: the women’s civic centres, coordinated by the census delegates and sub-delegates.
“ I was the censist delegate of the Peronist Women’s Party (PPF) Wilde-Avellaneda. When I was elected, I couldn’t believe it. I was 14, 15, and all Wilde was mine, from Mitre right to Calchaquí. It started at eight o’clock in the morning and it was eight o’clock in the evening and walked down the street, without eating, walking to complete one block, and two, and three… I never got tired,” recalls Beatriz Baliñas 60 years later, from her home in Caballito. “I was the smallest in the Party, that’s why Evita loved me so much.”
The Women’s Peronist Party was founded in July 1949, and was the very Eva Perón who elected the delegates of each district. Not having previous political experience was a quality, as Eva sought to keep her delegates as far away as possible from the vices of traditional politics, even alerted them not to let themselves be influenced or advised by the men of the party.
“ I became a Peronist for my sisters, and by the age of 16 I was the head of my female basic unit. My secretary was the wife of national deputy José Quevedo. Unbelievable! I was a baby and my secretary was a deputy’s wife! My mom would buy me those little tailor suits and comb my hair with tight, blonde hair, and I felt like Evita. He went and went to La Plata, carrying dozens of folders, because at that time it was necessary to make five tokens to affiliate the people!”
In principle, the census delegates were tasked with knowing how many Peronist female sympathizers there were in the country. Then they continued to register and register for the future election debut, while at the same time they put on shoulder the management of the women’s civic centers, which operated where they found a place: in a neighbor’s house, in some unused shed, apartments, theater, hall of
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