Carmen Delgado Votaw

(1935 - 2017)


Carmen Delgado Votaw is a national and international leader in the field of civil rights, particularly promoting equal opportunities for Hispanics and women. Her commitment to the advancement of women in America, especially minority women, compliments her contributions in the field of international cooperation and promoting opportunities for women around the world.

Born in Puerto Rico, Ms. Votaw attributes her value of community thinking and power to her small town origins. Her Hispanic heritage sensitized her to different world cultures, especially that of Latin America. As early as 1964, Votaw provided support and encouragement for women and shared the experiences of American women with those in other cultures. Involved for many years in the Overseas Education Fund of the League of Women Voters, she has helped promote participation, action ,and community development involvement for women in America and Latin America.

In the mid-1970's, Votaw was appointed to the Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year. Subsequently, she received two Presidential appointments, first to the International Women's Year Commission, and then, as co-chair of the National Advisory Committee for Women. Afterward, she was appointed as the U.S. Delegate to the Inter-America Commission of Women. Elected President of the Commission in 1978, she significantly influenced the status of women throughout the Americas. During her tenure, it was observed that, "The Commission has been modernized and it will never be the same again." Especailly in Latin America, Votaw saw the cultural barriers that prevent women's participation in national development. She was careful not to alienate the male-dominated councils that could act positively to improve the status of women. She lobbied and enlightened politicians to the inequities women faced by presenting unique strategies to solve problems and initiate change. Votaw advocated for human rights agencies to include women's rights in their action agendas.

In addition to her work in government settings, Votaw continued to contribute her expertise to non-governmental organizations. She shared her experiences with numerous groups emphasizing the strength resulting from the concerted action of citizens and governmental bodies. Votaw was also a writer and through her writing, she endeavors to increase awareness about Hispanic contributions and women's contributions around the world.

The array of Votaw's activities exemplifies her versatility and interest in all areas affecting women in civil and human rights, and in foreign affairs. Her experience in the U.S. with minority women and men has given her a unique perspective which she has carried abroad through her work and travels.She has striven to create projects which can be replicated in other countries.
Votaw's influence in the advancement of women in the Latin American region was demonstrated in various ways: the creation of women's bureaus; increasing number of countries that have signed the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; improved data collection processes; increasing numbers of women in political and appointed offices; improving access to technology for rural women; and a decreasing illiteracy rate among women.

Carmen Delgado Votaw's work has always been in keeping with the ideals of the Decade for Women: equality, development, and peace. Her contributions across national borders and language barriers have promoted cooperative regional efforts, networks, and a sense of accomplishment and universality among the women of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States.

Today, Carmen Delgado Votaw continues to serve women, girls, and youth as
the Washington Representative for Girls Scouts of the USA.

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