Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen (2016)
Raised by a poor single mother of five, Eva Perón (1919-1952) left home at fifteen to pursue the limelight as an actress in Buenos Aires. The ambitious Eva found success in theater, radio, and film over the next decade, even eventually co-owning a radio company and becoming the highest-paid actress in Argentina in 1943. She met politician Juan Perón at a charity event in 1944, and they married the following year. Eva Perón became First Lady of Argentina when Juan was elected president in 1946, which ultimately became her most successful role.
She was a passionate advocate for trade unions, labor rights, and women’s suffrage. As First Lady, she founded the Eva Perón Foundation and the Female Peronist Party, the first political group that served the interests of women in a time when women couldn’t vote or run for office. The following year, the women of Argentina were given the right to vote. By 1951, women could also run for office, and twenty-four were elected to the Chamber of Deputies and seven to the Senate, making Argentina the country with the most female representatives at the time.
Perón was so active in the community and beloved by the people of Argentina that she and Juan announced her candidacy to run beside him for vice president in the next election. This was met with great opposition and resistance from the military and elite class, who vocally opposed her work. However, it was her declining health that led to her withdrawal, and she passed away at the age of thirty-three from cancer. Her influence is still so resonant in the Argentinian consciousness that her book, The Purpose of My Life, is mandatory school reading. A testament to the international reach of her legacy, her life was made into the musical Evita, which was later adapted into a film starring Madonna.