Clara González

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Clara González
Clara González.jpg
Clara González Carrillo

(1898-09-11)11 September 1898
Died11 February 1990(1990-02-11) (aged 91)
Panama City, Panama
Other namesClara González Carrillo de Behringer
Occupationlawyer, deputy, academic, feminist
Years active1921-1964
Known forFirst Panamanian woman to earn a law degree

Clara Gonzalez (1898–1990) was the first Panamanian woman to earn her Bachelor of Law Degree in 1922. She created the National Feminist Party and pressed for suffrage for women by creating a school to teach them political responsibility. She was the first Latin American woman to earn a doctorate in law. She served in the Constitutional Assembly which finally granted women emancipation in 1946 and was the first Panamanian woman named as a Juvenile Court judge. She assisted in drafting the Juvenile Code and founded the Chapala Juvenile Reformatory.


Clara González Carrillo was born on 11 September 1898 in Remedios, Chiriquí Province, Republic of Panama to Spanish immigrants, David González and Basilia Carrillo Sánchez. As an infant, she lived with her family in Costa Rica, where they were exiled between 1900 and 1904.[1] She earned a teaching degree from the Escuela Normal in 1918 and in 1919 enrolled in Escuela Nacional de Derecho (National School of Law).[2] While she was in law school, she taught at the Escuela Manuel José Hurtado.[1] In 1922, she became the first Panamanian woman to earn a Bachelor of Law, but was prohibited from practicing. Her graduate thesis, La Mujer ante el Derecho Panameño[2] (Woman in Panamanian Law) was one of the first studies of the legal status of women and became the basis for a push to change the constitution. President Belisario Porras's administration received many requests to amend the constitution and finally did so in 1925, allowing González to practice law.[1]

The need to organize a feminist movement that favored women's participation in politics led González and women leaders like Sara Sotillo, Elida Campodónico de Crespo, Rosa Navas and others to create the National Feminist Party in 1923, though it took until 1924 to gain legal organization status.[1] One of the first things that the group did was organize the Escuela de Cultura Femenina (School of Feminine Culture) to counter claims that women could not participate because they knew nothing of politics. The school taught civics, history, politics and any other subjects that would enhance knowledge for women in professional and social spheres.[2]

Winning a scholarship in 1927, González went to the US[1] to attend New York University, earning a doctorate in law in 1929 and becoming the first Latin American woman with the distinction.[2] She returned to Panama in 1930, began working as a professor at the National Institute teaching economics, political science and sociology, and attempted to revive the National Feminist Party. She taught at the Institute until 1937 and with the founding of the University of Panama, began teaching criminology, family law and juvenile justice.[1]

With the overthrow of president Arnulfo Arias in 1941, González found a shift in the political climate. Between 1941 and 1945, she served as host of the Popular Culture Centers for Adults, in 1943 she married American civil engineer Charles A. Behringer,[1] and on 30 December 1944 she founded the Unión Nacional de Mujeres (National Women's Party). She ran as a candidate with the Liberal Renewal Party and was elected as a deputy of the Constitutional Assembly of 1945. She served as the Vice-minister of Labor, Social Provisions, and Public Health between 1945 and 1946 and was instrumental in pushing the passage of the right to vote and equal political rights bill which became law in 1946.[2]

She became the first Panamanian woman named as a Juvenile Court judge[2] in 1951 and helped establish the Juvenile Court guardianship policies, uniform procedures for dealing with juvenile delinquency, as well as founding the Chapala Juvenile Reformatory.[1] She continued working for the juvenile court until 1964[2] when she took retirement at her husband's request and settled with him in West Covina, California. After his death in 1966, she returned to her homeland and except for a few travels to visit family remained in Panama.[1]

Clara González died after complications of a hip surgery in Panama City on 11 February 1990.[1]


The School of Public Prosecutions in Panama bears her name,[3] as does an annual award given by the National Union of Lawyers to the legal professional who has excelled in the fight for women's or human rights.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Clara González Carrillo de Behringer". En Caribe (in Spanish). Dominican Republic: Enciclopedia de Historia y Cultura del Caribe. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Moreno, Célia. "Clara González de Behringer". Unidade Acadêmica de Engenharia Civil (in Portuguese). Campina Grande, Paraíba, Brasil: Universidade Federal de Campina Grande. Archived from the original on 21 April 2017. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Clara González de Behringer, Parcipó de la X Asamblea General De Recampi". Ministerio Publico (in Spanish). Panama City, Panama: República de Panamá GOB. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  4. ^ "Premio Clara González de Behringer". UNA Panama (in Spanish). Panama City, Panama: Unión Nacional de Abogadas. 2012. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 17 August 2015.