Famous Peruvian Women: Hilaria Supa Huamán, Champion for Indigenous and Women’s Rights in Peru

Famous Peruvian Women: Hilaria Supa Huamán, Champion for Indigenous and Women’s Rights in Peru

Many travelers come to Peru for the ancient archaeological sites, world-renowned cuisine, and Amazon Jungle, but do they know about some of the important movers and shakers shaping Peru and Peruvian culture today?

In this blog post, we would like to feature famous Peruvian women and one in particular.  We’d like to introduce you to one of those so called movers and shakers: Hilaria Supa Huamán, the Quechua-speaking human rights activist, author, politician, and indigenous leader leaving a significant mark on women’s and indigenous rights in Peru.

– Hilaria Supa’s Story


Hilaria Supa Photo Source: Flickr-Congreso

Hilaria Supa was born in 1957 and was raised as the daughter of a peasant family working on a hacienda owned by wealthy people in the Wayllaqocha pueblo of the Anta Province in Cusco. She had a grandfather who spoke out for farmers’ rights, and who was murdered in 1965.  She was forced to work as a maid at the extremely tender age of six, and subsequently experienced many abuses, including rape at the age of 14. In her book, Threads of My Life, she talks about how she survived and ultimately used these experiences to become a stronger human being. She eventually served as a congresswoman during former President Humala’s administration, as a member of the Partido Nacionalista Peruano political party.

What Hilaria Supa Has Achieved Already


Hilaria Supa Photo Source: Flickr-Congreso

Among Hilaria’s past accomplishments is the organization, along with other indigenous women, of programs to provide meals for poor children in the remote regions of Cusco during the 1980’s. She was also active in achieving legislation for land rights reform in Peru during that decade. In 1991, she became the Organizational Secretary of the Women’s Federation of Anta, where she was responsible for alphabetization programs, the preservation of traditional medicine, and for issues dealing with the use of pesticides on native lands.

In 1995, Hilaria Supa campaigned against forced sterilization, a racist health policy that affected upwards of 350,000 women and 22,000 men during the Fujimori administration. In 2006, she was elected to the Peruvian Congress, and became the first parliamentarian to take the oath in Quechua, an act for which she received criticism from fellow members.

– Hilaria Supa Today


Hilaria Supa Photo Source: Flickr-Congreso

Hilaria Supa is the current Peruvian representative to the Andean Community of Nations. She is currently working to preserve Machu Picchu and other native sites, and to return them to management by indigenous people.
She uses and actively promotes the use of the Quechua language and has worked to promote the equal rights of Peruvian women, and to end sexual abuse and violence against women.

– Threads of My Life

For more about Hilaria Supa Huamán, you can read her memoir, Threads of My Life, in which she recounts her experiences of growing up in a country where neither indigenous nor women’s rights are widely respected. In it she notes how her experiences are relatable to many women, and formats her book with provocative questions at the end of each chapter designed to stimulate readers to reflect on their own experiences, create dialogue with others, and join together to put an end to abuses in their own communities. The book has been translated into both English and German, with Quechua soon to come.

Prepare for your once-in-a-lifetime Peruvian vacation by reading up on important Peruvian figures like Hilaria Supa Huamán. It will introduce you to an important piece of Peru few travelers take the time to get to know and help you to better understand this beautiful and complex country while you’re here.

To plan your perfect Peru trip, contact a Kuoda Travel Designer today.

Main Photo Source: Flickr-Congreso