“New Mexican women don’t take things sitting down,” Maria Hinojosa says. Those who nourish communities and seed critical thinking, “the activists, poets, painters, writers, mothers”—that’s who Hinojosa implicates when describing her encounters with New Mexico. She is herself a fierce Latina trained in the art of observation, one who holds an “ethical responsibility to those rendered invisible.” 

We all know a resilient woman; born from and raised up in complex Indigenous and mestizo communities, women who have experienced firsthand, and over the course of many generations, the dispossession and loss that has marked the places we call home.

It’s hard not to see how the twin behemoths, patriarchy and colonialism, have left their imprint nearly everywhere. And yet, the stories of the women and women-identified members of our communities aren’t just jeremiads to cultural casualty. When NewMexicoWomen.Org was conducting dialogues throughout the state for its study, The Heart of Gender Justice in New Mexico: Intersectionality, Economic Security and Health Equity, participants across the board identified a community’s strengths as its women’s resilience and creativity.

On Feb. 27 the organization, whose mission is to advance opportunities for women and girls, celebrates its fifth anniversary at SITE Santa Fe. They’re doing so with an apt banner: “Standing Fierce for Five.” With that comes a big community encuentro and night of festivities, including an opening from the young poets of Albuquerque’s Native American Community Academy, as well as the resonant words of former Albuquerque Poet Laureate Jessica Helen Lopez.

According to the nonprofit’s press release, “’Standing Fierce for Five’ is a celebration of the work of NMW.O, the only statewide women’s fund dedicated to gender equity, as well as the work of their community partners across New Mexico. … As a society, we are in a unique moment to create space anew for the voices, dreams, and leadership of women and girls to be centered. 

To center those voices is to honor the most marginalized of our communities: intersectional women whose place in the social matrix is the stuff of multiple identities and, thus, multiple ways of navigating the world.

Some of NMW.O's community partners include Southwest Organizing Project (swop.net), Tewa Women United (tewawomenunited.org), Northern New Mexico College Office of Equity and Diversity (nnmc.edu), Tres Manos Weaving Studio, Navajo Nation Breastfeeding Coalition and Mujeres de Adelante Women's Cooperative (part of Santa Fe Public School's Adelante program), to name only a few.

Hinojosa, whose voice many have come to recognize on NPR’s Latino USA, will be the event’s guest speaker. As a veteran journalist with nearly three decades of experience, her own philosophy of centering women “goes back to the fact that that was part of my own narrative,” she tells SFR. Her mother, too, was a “powerhouse,” who “founded domestic violence programs where there were none.” Hinojosa’s ability to tell the stories about the most “disenfranchised communities” in the US and across the Americas comes, she says, from the “experiences of crossing borders growing up.” She was born in Mexico City and raised in Chicago. Combatting that omnipresent thing we call the patriarchy came in the form of founding her own company, Futuro Media Group, in 2010.

During NMW.O’s community dialogues, it became clear to Program Director Fatima van Hattum that the participants all shared a sense of tenacity. Those involved spoke of “persistence in fighting for justice, the ingenuity of Norteñas as problem solvers, ancestral life ways, the role of women as negotiators, the Diné philosophy of K’é, comadrazga, querencia, and the ability to do a lot with very little.” Their evocations are a reminder, as we move into Women’s History Month, to recall the spectrum of women around us who do stand up, and fiercely so.

Standing Fierce for Five
5:30 pm Tuesday Feb. 27. Free.
SITE Santa Fe,
1606 Paseo de Peralta,
register at newmexicowomen.org.