It’s been a while since we talked about the women who have helped shape history in the Dominican Republic and Honduras. Because of this, we thought it would be a good idea to start with one of the most well-known Honduran writers, Lucila Gamero de Medina.
Born in 1873, Lucila was the child of Doctor Manuel de Adalid Gamero Idíaquez and Camila Moncada Lazo. Her family wasn’t rich, but they inculcated in her a sense of pride for the family history. This made her be very a very driven and self-assured woman, which gave her the drive to push societal boundaries. However, this also meant that she’d grow up to be a woman often referred to as masculine and immoral.
Lucilda, also known as the great lady of Honduran literature, studied to be a doctor and a pharmacist under her father’s tutelage. Initially, she attempted to follow on her father and brother’s footsteps by studying in Guatemala but was barred from doing so by the university because she was a woman. She initially had only her father’s support and several medicine books to guide her as she wasn’t allowed to practice because she wasn’t officially a part of a program. Nevertheless, thanks to her drive and abilities, she received a diploma as a Medical Surgeon in 1924 from the Nacional University of Honduras (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras). Later that year Lucilda also went on to become the director of Danli, her hometown. She also assisted and, later, took over her father’s private practice, and she came to have her own pharmacy and ranch.
Writer and Feminist
Before beginning her medical career, however, Lucilda was largely self-taught. Her mother taught her to read and write, but, being an avid reader, she quickly took up reading as many books as she could find. At 12 years old, she wrote her first text “Impresiones del Campo” (Impressions of the Countryside).
Her father supported her love for books, which led him to give her some of his own medical books to read. This is how she came into the medical practice. However, because of the barriers which were imposed on her, she became keenly aware of the cultural barriers that arose from her gender. This helped her feminism come from the point of view of a misunderstood woman who was regularly dissatisfied by the cultural impositions given to her because of her gender.
Moreover, this dissatisfaction was only increased when, as a writer, she was not as recognized for her help in developing Froylan Turcios’s weekly “El Pensamiento” (The Thought). It was in this magazine where she published her first novel, Amalia Montiel, as weekly chapters. Yet, her perseverance paid off once again, when her second novel, Adriana y Margarita, was the first novel to be published as such in her country. She went on to write seven novels and a children’s book. However, her most famous novel is Blanca Olmedo which is widely considered one of the most important pieces of Latin-American literature. In this novel, Lucilda sharply criticizes justice system in her country, the hypocrisy of the church and the nefarious influences both had on the family, society, and, especially, on women. This criticism led her book to be banned literature for women well into the twentieth century even if now it’s an important part of the literature curriculum in Honduras.
However, her contribution to the feminist movement didn’t only come from her literary works. In fact, Lucilda co-founded the Pan-American Female society in 1946 and the Honduran Female Committee, affiliated with the Inter-American Commission of Women, in 1947. Through these organizations, Lucilda worked hard towards women’s suffrage. She also published the third feminist periodical of Honduras called Mujer Americana (American Woman).
Lucilda was also a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. She was a woman who lived her life to the fullest, and we hope to emulate her as much as we can. We’re well aware that Lucilda was a very special woman and that it’s difficult to think about doing as much as she has for others. Nevertheless, we can all do something to make the world a better place, and that’s what we strive to do at Caritas Smile. Maybe you’d like to join us? If so, please check out our volunteering opportunities! There are many different ways for you to help, and we’re sure that together, we can find the right one for you.
Talia Velez is a Growth Impact Officer at Caritas Smile, a non-profit service travel program dedicated to making positive impacts and sustainable changes for women and children in developing countries. Having grown up in Mexico, Talia is keenly aware of the day-to-day issues faced by women and children in countries with more economic vulnerability. Visit our site to learn more about Caritas Smile and join us in our mission to help those in need.