Prudencia Ayala

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Photo of 1920

Prudencia Ayala (Sonzacate, April 28, 1885 – San Salvador, July 11, 1936), Salvadoran writer and social activist who fought for women's rights in El Salvador.


She came from a primarily indigenous family, her parents were Aurelia Ayala and Vicente Chief. When she was ten years old, her family moved to Santa Ana City, where she started her elementary studies in María Luisa de Cristofine's elementary school.[1] She never finished her studies due to the lack of economic resources in her family,[2] developing an autodidact formation.

She learned to sew and worked as a seamstress along with her future activities. She assured she had the capacity of predicting the future through messages she received from "mysterious voices". This allowed her to gain some relevance among her close relatives, making her gain fame and recognition despite the unlikely truth of her predictions. This statement also provoked criticism and mockery from some social groups.

Her predictions were published in Santa Ana's newspapers, where she's referred to as "la sibila santaneca". In 1914, she predicted the fall of Germany's Kaiser and the involvement of the United States in the war. From then on, her name would take relevance because of her feminist approaches and her esoteric character.

Social Participation[edit]

Starting in 1913 she started to publish articles of opinion in Diary of the West, periodically when she traveled the west region of El Salvador, where she manifested in favor of anti-imperialism, feminism, and the Central American unionism, as well as her repudiation of the United States's invasion in Nicaragua. Also she published poems in many newspapers of El Salvador.

In 1919 she was put in jail for the criticism in one of her columns, the mayor of Atiizaya and also, in Guatemala, she was put in jail for many months for accusations of collaborating with the planning of coup of state. In 1921 she published her book Escrible. Adventures of a trip to Guatemala, in which she narrated her trip to Guatemala during the last months under the dictatorship of Manuel Estrada Cabrera. In addition she published the books Immortal, Amores de Loca (1925) y Fumada Mota (1928). During the final of the 1920s, she funded and ran the newspaper Rendencion Femenina, where she expressed her stance on the fight of women's rights.[3]

Political Participation[edit]

In 1930, she intended to run as a candidate for the presidency of the Republic, even though the Salvadoran legislation did not recognize women's right to vote. Her government platform included the support of unions, honesty, and transparency of the public administration, the limitation of the distribution and consumption of liquor, the respect of the freedom of worship and the recognition of "illegitimate kids". She started a public debate of legal and political arguments in favor and against her ambition. One of the advocates of her candidacy was the philosopher, teacher, writer, and congressman Alberto Masferrer, who,in the Newspaper Patria, stated:

Prudencia Ayala defends a just and noble cause, which is the women's right to vote and to hold high positions. Her government program is not inferior in justification, practical sense and simplicity, than other candidates that are taken seriously.

Finally, her application was rejected by the Supreme Court, but the debate that followed the intent of her nomination sparked the feminist movement that permitted the women suffrage right to be reconsidered in 1939,[4] and that in the Constitution of 1950, under the approval of the President Oscar Osorio, it gave legal recognition of women's rights in El Salvador.[5][full citation needed]

Death and Tributes[edit]

Prudencia Ayala passed away on July 11, 1936, away from the political arena, but close to the masses and social movements. There is no proof of her participation of the worker's uprising in 1932, but it is believed that she collaborated with the uprisings. In the middle of San Salvador, close to the Metropolitan Cathedral, there is a small plaza named after Alaya. In this site there is a plaque that states:

Prudencia Alaya, Salvadoran of Indigenous blood, precursor of the fight for women's human rights.

There are various organizations that exist to honor her name, such as the "Concertación Feminista Prudencia Ayala."

In March 2009, to celebrate Women's Day, and in tribute to Prudencia Alaya, the play Prudencia en tiempos de brujería was staged.[6][full citation needed]


  1. ^ "Prudencia Ayala, la luchadora incansable" [Prudencia Ayala, tireless fighter] (PDF). Diario Co Latino (in Spanish). 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
  2. ^ Reyes, José Luis. "Prudencia Ayala, 'hija de la centella'". Retrieved April 27, 2007.
  3. ^ Lycos. "Prudencia Ayala". Retrieved April 27, 2007.
  4. ^ "Central & South America Suffrage Timeline". Women's suffrage. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  5. ^ "Sufragismo y feminismo en El Salvador: visibilizando los aportes de las mujeres". CIC-UES. Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  6. ^ "Rutgers". Archived from the original on November 21, 2004. Retrieved August 17, 2013.