María Eva Duarte de Perón (7 May 1919 – 26 July 1952) was the second wife of President Juan Perón (1895–1974) and served as the First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. She is often referred to as simply Eva Perón, or by the affectionate Spanish language diminutive Evita.
Eva Peron was the most outspoken first lady in Argentina. The world still remembers the soft spoken lady who was so charismatic that she often drove crowds into a frenzy. She was the first, first lady of Argentina to be involved in political parties and the politics of the country. She was very outspoken when it came to women’s issues and was often found to be at loggerheads with powerful state ministers when it came to defending the rights of the gender minority.
Before Eva Peron came to the scene, women were largely ignored. But after Eva, women in Argentina became a force to be reckoned with whether in politics, the economy or social well-being. More and more women became encouraged to pursue political careers especially with the formation and growth of the only women political party in Argentina. The party run by Peron opened doors that had otherwise remained shut for the Argentine women.
Eva Peron’s birth is a much contested issue with many believing that she was actually not born in Argentina but rather Paraguay. Since the two countries have been involved in much conflict, it is believed that Peron forged her birth certificate in order to get married to the president, Juan Peron. However, all this are speculations.
Eva spent her early childhood in Junín province, before moving to Buenos Aires where she planned to pursue an acting career. In Buenos Aires, Eva soon became the highest paid radio actress at the time. She was sought after because of her melodramatic voice and charisma which drew listeners from all parts of the country. It was this quality that later led her to meet her famous husband, Juan. Eva began a career in politics by forming a radio association which fought for the rights of female radio actresses.
During the 1944 earthquake fund, Eva met her future husband Juan Peron. It was only weeks after that they began what was referred to as the most scandalous affair. Contrary to popular belief, Eva and Juan actually began living together before getting married.
Peron often allowed Eva into the inner circle meetings thereby watering her thirst of politics. As she began to understand the workings of the government, Eva became more pronounced politically. Once her husband became Argentinean president she became the most outspoken feminist in addition to starting so many charities. Over time her talents were recognized and she was appointed minister (a post never before given to a woman). Many believe that this was meant to appease and buy her silence on feminism, but instead it provided a platform from which she pushed her agenda.
Under her leadership, Argentinean women became even more outspoken and confident in the public arena. They demanded rights that they never knew existed before, and insisted on equal opportunities and treatment. Eva contracted cancer at an early age and despite all forms of treatment, the woman who had become so revered in the nation died and was granted a funeral fit for the president.
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