Women's History Theme
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Who is this woman?   

____ was an exceptional seventeenth-century nun who wrote about the rights of women to education long before the concept of women's rights or feminism existed. In a time when women of intellectual superiority and learning were not appreciated, her bold writing caused many problems for her and ended finally in her pen being silenced.

____ Ramirez was born out of wedlock to Isabel Ramirez and Manuel ____ Asbaje in a small village in Mexico, New Spain. Manuel soon abandoned the family, so mother and child spent a great deal of time with ____'s grandfather, Pedro Ramirez. When she was three years old she followed her sister to a school for girls where she learned to read. In her grandfather's book-filled house, ____ began her life-long quest for knowledge. (Girls of her time were rarely, if ever, formally educated.) She embarked on a life shaped by intellectual curiosity. She quickly became known in society and became a lady-in-waiting in the court of the Spanish viceroy. After four years she left the court for the nunnery. At the time, it was the best way for an illegitimately born woman to be given the time and resources for scholarship.

The order of Saint Jerome gave her an entire suite of her own, complete with bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, library, and servant. Her library -- which held Mexico's largest book collection -- developed into a meeting-place for the intellectuals of her day.

Many of her writings, especially her non-religious plays and her writings about the rights of women disturbed her superiors in the Catholic Church. When the Archbishop of Mexico tried to silence her, she wrote a defense entitled "La Respuesta." This letter is a magnificent defense for women's intellectual rights and education. "La Respuesta" brought ____ to the attention of the Inquisition. In 1694 she gave in and reaffirmed her vows as a nun. Her library was removed from her room.

A year later when an epidemic swept through Mexico City, she insisted on staying in the convent to help the nuns who were ill. At age 43 she died of cholera. Many scholars consider her the Americas' first great poet.

She learned to read at age three.

While at the Convent of Saint Jerome she taught music and drama to girls.

She was a nun who wrote about the rights of women to education.

She at first entered a Carmelite convent but did not like its strict rules.

Who is this woman?
     Mary Mcleod Bethune
     Nancy Ward
     Golda Meir
     Mary Lou Retton
     Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
     Mary Cassatt

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