Meet Mexico’s Changemakers: 7 Influential Women You Need to Know About

March plays host to Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day—a poignant reminder to pause and honor the remarkable social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women worldwide. It’s not only a time for reflection but also a call to action, urging us to accelerate the journey towards gender equality. For a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination, collective action is paramount, where differences are not just acknowledged but cherished. We’re thrilled to seize this opportunity and shine a spotlight on some incredible Mexican women. Through unwavering dedication, hard work, and tenacity, they have achieved extraordinary feats. Join us as we delve into their inspiring stories and spread the word! 


1. Catalina Yolanda López Márquez, Guardian of Oaxaca’s Cochineal Dye

 Doña Catalina  is a master of the ancient art of cochineal dyeing—an age-old technique hailing from Mexico’s rich pre-Hispanic heritage. Her journey began over five decades ago when she taught herself how to elaborate the brilliant red dye, recognizing its significance as a vital part of cultural legacy. Alongside her daughter Claudia, she runs the Nocheztlicalli museum in Oaxaca City, where she meticulously tends to her nopal cactus garden and nurtures the insects essential for dye production. Through immersive workshops at the museum, Catalina shares her profound understanding of cochineal cultivation, ensuring its continuity for future generations. Her pioneering efforts in reviving cochineal cultivation reflect her commitment to preserving this natural dye, which is still used by artisans in Oaxaca’s native crafts today. Catalina’s tireless dedication earned her the esteemed title of Living Human Treasure in 2023, bestowed by Oaxaca’s Secretary of Cultures and Arts, a testament to her role as a champion and custodian of Mexico’s extraordinary cultural heritage. Additionally, her accolades include clinching the top spot in the Award for Mexican Women Inventors and Innovators in both 2007 and 2008, further recognizing her outstanding contributions.  


2. Frida Kahlo, Icon of Resilience

 Frida Kahlo is perhaps Mexico’s most recognized woman, who’s legacy as a pioneering artist and cultural icon lives on. Her fearless exploration of identity, pain, and perseverance are universally relatable, and beyond her artistic talent, Kahlo’s achievements as a woman resonate on a profound level. Despite facing numerous personal challenges, including physical disabilities and chronic health issues, she boldly challenged societal norms and defied the gender stereotypes of her time, tapping into themes of female empowerment, body positivity, and individuality, which paved the way for future generations to be their authentic selves. Her unwavering determination serves as an enduring inspiration, reminding us of the power of creativity and self-expression in the face of adversity. Dive into Frida Kahlo’s psyche at Casa Azul, her beloved home in Mexico City. 

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3. Regina Chay, Queen of Community-focused Leadership at Las Haciendas

Regina’s journey from humble beginnings to Senior Resident Manager of the restored henequen Haciendas under IHG, including renowned properties like Haciendas Santa Rosa and San Jose, is a testament to her warm leadership, keen eye for detail, and passion for sharing Maya culture. Embracing a community-centric approach to leadership, Regina fosters a sense of family within her team. She actively engages the haciendas in community outreach, collaborating with organizations like the Mundo Maya Foundation, a beacon of sustainability in the region, offering vital training and employment avenues for Maya women and families. Beyond being workplaces, the haciendas represent an important part of Maya heritage and identity. As Resident Manager at Hacienda Santa Rosa, Regina seamlessly weaves Maya history and culture into the daily experience, where a botanical garden boasts nearly 300 medicinal plants, a sanctuary helps to preserve the sacred Melipona Bee, and guests are connected to native craft activities like filigree and weaving. 

regina chay haciendas



4. Adela Flores, Sharing Generational Tradition

Adela is at the heart of culinary endeavors within the “Chinampas en Movimiento” project, spearheaded by the civil association REEDUCA, one of our positive impact partners. Hailing from Otomí roots, Adela’s journey led her to one of the original communities most representative of Xochimilco, San Gregorio Atlapulco, where she continues to live. Imbued with a wealth of culinary wisdom passed down through generations of resilient women in her family, Adela’s upbringing under the tutelage of her mother and grandmother ignited a passion for preserving and celebrating Mexican culinary heritage. It’s the dedication of countless Mexican women like Adela that ensures the survival of this invaluable cultural legacy, a fact deserving of profound gratitude. As the matriarch of the chinampa project, Adela proudly embodies the essence of Mexican cuisine. Meet Adela and taste her authentic creations on our axolotl and chinampas experience in Mexico City—an immersive journey into Aztec agroecology and the endangered native salamander. 

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5. Rosana Alvarez, Making Environmental Education Accessible

 Rosana Álvarez is the visionary behind the remarkable community initiative, Vía Orgánica A.C., dedicated to fostering connections between local small-scale farmers and discerning consumers in search of responsible and healthy organic fare in San Miguel de Allende. Beyond offering access to wholesome food, Vía Orgánica actively champions a range of educational endeavors centered on regenerative organic agriculture, bolstering the local economy, promoting sustainability, and enhancing natural health through its Eco-Ranch and Educational Center. One standout initiative within the project is the maguey project, which harnesses the ecological benefits of maguey plants as part of an ambitious regeneration movement aimed at reducing CO2 emissions. Additionally, the ranch’s seed bank serves as a vital safeguard for Mexico’s heirloom seeds, combating contemporary challenges through the rescue and preservation of key ingredients such as corn, squash, beans, and chilis, ensuring the integrity and diversity of these essential crops for future generations. 



6. Lorena Ramírez, Breaking Barriers in Huaraches

 Lorena Ramírez, a renowned long-distance runner from Mexico, has captivated the world with her extraordinary talent, resilience, and cultural significance. Hailing from the indigenous Rarámuri community in Chihuahua’s remote Sierra Madre mountains, Lorena’s prowess in ultra-marathons has earned her widespread admiration. Running in traditional attire and ‘ huarache’ sandals made of recycled tire rubber, she effortlessly navigates rugged terrains, showcasing not only her physical endurance but also her deep connection to her heritage and the land. Lorena’s achievements highlight the strength and endurance of indigenous women while serving as a source of inspiration for athletes and admirers worldwide. Her dedication to her craft and commitment to preserving her cultural identity make her a true symbol of strength and determination. Connect with Lorena and her family’s land and traditions with a journey to the Copper Canyon in northern Mexico. 


7. The Women of Granada & Yaxunah, Collective Power – Holga Tamayo, Yenni Canul, Ingrid & Luciely Cahum

The women of the Maya communities of Yaxunah and Granada are the unsung heroes who preserve age-old culinary traditions, like cooking in the ancient ‘pib’ pit ovens, and apply their expertise in cultivating and tending gardens daily to ensure a vital source of nutrition for their families and neighbors. At the same time, by working together as a group, women like Holga Tamayo, Yenni Canul, and Ingrid and Luciely Cahum combat misogynistic stereotypes and are exemplars of dedication, strength, intelligence, and responsibility, contributing to local economies by working in agriculture, making traditional crafts, or by being entrepreneurs. These multifaceted roles make an invaluable contribution to their communities and beyond, driving progress with resilience, creativity, and unwavering commitment. Get hands on with these incredible women with our cultural exchange exploring Hanal Pixan, the Yucatecan celebration of Day of the Dead.
mundo maya regenerative travel

mundo maya regenerative travel mundo maya regenerative travel



Want to learn more about these incredible women?

Get in touch with one of our travel planners to learn about how you can incorporate an adventure in your personalized Mexico itinerary that`ll connect you to stories, projects, and cultures of these mighty women. Custom made trips start at $1,000 USD per day for two travelers.   


Author: Sally Wells

The British-born writer first fell for Mexico’s magic while studying Spanish in Guadalajara. A decade later, she’s taken her time getting to know the country’s multifaceted personality, and now calls Puerto Vallarta home. Sally has always had a soft spot for the written word and finds inspiration in life’s subtleties as much as the big moments. She loves stepping into someone’s world, listening to their experiences, and making connections. A firm advocate for candid communication, Sally believes storytelling has the ability to empower, enlighten, and spark empathy.