Changing perceptions of women in Latin America

Dr Lauren Rea, Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies in the School of Languages of Cultures, recently spoke at the Argentine National Congress (the legislative body of government), at an event to celebrate the centenary of Billiken children’s magazine.

Dr Lauren Rea and Billiken's Director Euhen Matarozzo

100 Grandes Mujeres Latoamericanas book cover

To commemorate the Billiken centenary, the Honourable Chamber of Deputies in Argentina declared Billiken of national interest for its contribution to Argentine cultural life. As part of this event, Lauren, along with Euhen Matarozzo, Billiken’s Director, presented their illustrated children’s book, 100 Grandes Mujeres Latinoamericanas, which is part of the repositioning of the Billiken brand as it prepares to take on the next hundred years. The book seeks to redress the balance of historical gender representation in Billiken which Lauren has analysed as part of her AHRC-funded research project.

Latin America, like many countries, experiences gender inequality, with women’s contributions often being side-lined. Based on her research, Lauren has helped Billiken to release a book that represents the diversity of women’s experiences, the challenges they’ve faced and their astounding achievements in Latin America. Lauren and Euhen led an international team of creative industries professionals to create 100 Grandes Mujeres Latinoamericanas which was co-authored by Lauren, Ariela Kreimer, from Argentina, and University of Sheffield MA student Regina Solis, from Guatemala. The illustrated children’s book showcases one hundred leading women, past and present, from sportswomen and activists to artists, scientists and entrepreneurs.

Four of the Great Women featured in the book — Argentine artist Mirta Toledo, Ecuadorian social entrepreneur Maritza Lanas, Uruguayan dramatist Estela Golovchenko and Ecuadorian social worker Gabriela Yánez — were present at the launch and were interviewed by Lauren and Euhen about their careers, inspirations, and life experiences.

Guest speakers at Billiken's centenary event

Exhibition on the first 100 years of Billiken magazine which was displayed in the Congress building

Billiken is the world’s longest-running children’s magazine. It has published 5,143 issues in Argentina and had historical circulation in many other Latin American countries. Generations of Latin Americans have stories to tell about their experiences reading Billiken and the impact it had on their childhoods. Lauren’s historical research into the magazine has framed discussions around Billiken’s future as it prepares to transition into a multi-platform product, and 100 Grandes Mujeres Latinoamericanas represents a new narrative for the new era of this legacy children’s publication.

Lauren was also invited to curate an exhibition on the first 100 years of Billiken magazine which was displayed in the Congress building for the week of the centenary.

About the project, Lauren said: “Thanks to the support of my AHRC Leadership Fellowship, I have been able to develop a creative partnership with Billiken, using my research to drive change. We are currently applying for AHRC Follow-on Funding which would allow us to develop multi-platform educational resources based on 100 Grandes Mujeres Latinoamericanas with the long-term goal of promoting the integration of historical women into national curricula throughout the Latin American region.”

Find out more about the Billiken Centenary Project