Rita Cetina Gutiérrez

Rita Cetina
Rita Cetina (aka Rita Cetina Gutiérrez).jpg
Rita Cetina
Rita Cetina Gutiérrez

(1846-05-22)22 May 1846
Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico
Died 11 October 1908(1908-10-11) (aged 62)
Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico
Nationality Mexican
Occupation educator, feminist, poet
Years active 1870–1902

Rita Cetina Gutiérrez (22 May 1846 – 11 October 1908) was a Mexican teacher, poet and feminist who promoted secular education in the nineteenth century in Mérida, Yucatán. She was one of the first feminists and influenced the generation of young women who fueled the first wave of feminism in Mexico.


Rita Cetina Gutiérrez was born 22 May 1846 in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico to Colonel Don Pedro Cetina and Jacoba Gutiérrez.[1] Cetina's father was murdered when she was 14 and a benefactor assisted her in attaining her education.[2] She studied under two noted scholars from Cuba, Domingo Laureano Paz and Félix Ramos y Duarte, who were living in Mérida.[3]

She wrote poetry from about 1860[2] which was published in many local journals and newspapers,[4] sometimes using the pen name Cristabela. Typical themes were love, a desire for justice, education and patriotism.[3]

With the support of Gertrudis Tenorio Zavala and Cristina Farfán, on 3 May 1870 Cetina opened La Siempreviva (Everlasting), an institution consisting of Mexico's first secular school for poor girls as well as an art college for young women. She established simultaneously a scientific and literary society and a newspaper of the same name, specifically written for ladies and young women.[1][5] Teaching at the girls school covered reading, grammar and geography, as in other girls schools of the period, but surprisingly it also included religious history, reflecting Cetina's own faith. The curriculum of the art college included literature, drawing, reciting, music (piano) and theater.[5] In addition to publishing her own paper, Cetina was listed as an editor of the newspaper El Federalista (The Federalist).[4] She rejected the idea that women's studies should include only domestic skills and offered a curriculum including astronomy, constitutional law, geometry,[2] geography, history, and mathematics.[3] As well as discussions on children, "the double standard", female sexuality, love, and marriage.[2]

Seven years after founding her school, the Instituto Literario de Niñas (ILN) (Literary Institute for Girls) was created by Governor Manuel Cepeda Peraza and Cetina was asked to become its Director. She agreed because the school offered women the opportunity to have both secondary education and teacher's training in a normal school.[5] La Siempreviva remained open operating as a private school until it merged with the ILN in 1886.[2]

Cetina's lasting legacy and contributions to the feminist movement of Yucatán at the turn of the twentieth century, is clearly seen in some of the pupils she taught: Susana Betancourt Yucatecan representatives at the Pan-American Conference of Women in Baltimore in 1922; Elvia Carrillo Puerto elected as a Yucatán State Deputy in 1923; Raquel Dzib Cicero elected as a Yucatán State Deputy in 1923;[3] Leonarda Gómez Blanco who served as Director of Education in both Campeche and Tlaxcala[6] Beatríz Peniche Barrera elected as a Yucatán State Deputy in 1923; Gloria Mireya Rosado Yucatecan representatives at the Pan American Feminist Congress in Baltimore in 1922; Elena Torres founder of the first Montessori School in Mexico; Rosa Torre González[3] first woman elected to any office in Mexico elected to the Mérida City Council in 1922;[7] and Consuelo Zavala head of the organizing committee of the First Feminist Congress.[2]

Cetina retired in 1902 and died in Mérida on 11 October 1908.[1]

Selected works

  • "A México" (1867)
  • "A Nuestro Sexo" (1870)
  • "Al Partir"
  • "Babilonia"
  • "Deudas de corazón"
  • "Oda a los héroes de Tihosuco"
  • "Recuerdo, A una flor"



  1. ^ a b c Sosa Muñiz, Javier (2010). "Rita Cetina Gutierrez" (in Spanish). Escuela Rita Cetina. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Ramirez Salgado, Raquel (5 July 2012). "Sobre Rita Cetina Gutiérrez, madre simbólica del feminismo en Yucatán" [About Rita Cetina Gutierrez, symbolic mother of feminism in Yucatan] (in Spanish). Distintas Latitudes. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Machuca, Graciela (19 November 2013). "Mujeres precursoras revolucionarias. Rita Cetina: Y la discriminación feminista" (in Spanish). Quintana Roo, Mexico: Noticaribe. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  4. ^ a b Granillo Vázquez, Lilia (2002). "Primeras Periodistas Mexicanas: Poetisas y Empresarias" (PDF). Tema y variacione s (in Spanish). Mexico City: Departamento de Humanidades, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana. 19: 111–142. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Peniche Rivero, Piedad. "Rita Cetina Gutiérrez, la feminista pionera de la educación en Yucatán en contexto teórico" (PDF) (in Spanish). Mérida, Mexico: Archivo General del Estado de Yucatán. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 March 2018. Retrieved 21 March 2015. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ "Leonarda Gómez Blanco". Instituto Nacional para el Federalismo y el Desarrollo Municipal (in Spanish). Enciclopedia de Los Municipios y Delegaciones de México Estado de Tlaxcala. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  7. ^ Lavrin, Asunción, ed. (1978). Latin American Women: Historical Perspectives. Westport: Greenwood Press. p. 290. ISBN 0-313-20309-1. Retrieved 20 February 2015.

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