Rigoberta Menchú

Femme's & Women’s History Month: Rigoberta Menchú


Rigoberta Menchú is a Guatemalan human rights activist and nobel laureate. In 1992, she became the first indigenous person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Menchú is committed to the equal rights and treatment of the right of native or indigenous populations around the world.

Born in 1959, she was raised in the Quiché tradition of Mayan culture. The Quiché people have maintained their culture and language in the Chimel region of Guatemala despite efforts during the Spanish conquest. Guatemala has experienced great tension between the descendants of European immigrants and the indigenous population.

These disparities erupted during the Guatemalan Civil War that spanned from 1960 to 1996. The 36 year-long war was the background in which Menchú was raised.  Through accusations of anti-government leftist groups, the Guatemalan military committed atrocities against indigenous people. This scapegoating methodology culminated in the genocide of native Guatemalans. Rigoberta Menchú's mother, father, and brother became victims of these overt human rights violations when Guatemalan army tortured and murdered her family.

While exiled in Mexico in 1981, she became an advocate of the rights, traditions, and culture of indigenous people and all victims of institutional oppression. During this time she wrote and published her testimonial autobiography I, Rigoberta Menchú. The novelhelped to bring awareness into the realities of the lives of indigenous Guatemalans.

Rigoberta Menchú's efforts were acknowledged in 1992 when she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts on behalf of Guatemala's indigenous people. After receiving the Peace Prize, Menchú established the Rigoberta Menchú Tum Foundation which continues her fight for the rights of indigenous people around the world.

"This world will not change unless we are willing to change ourselves." -Rigoberta Menchú

Women’s History Month 3.16.15 Rigoberta Menchú