Las adelitas: Women who fought in the Mexican Revolution

Women in Mexico staged huge protests this week. They rallied for more rights on International Women’s Day, and they mounted a nationwide strike the day after. They’re not the first female revolutionaries in Mexico.

A hundred years ago, a group of women joined Pancho Villa in the Mexican Revolution. Some even took up arms. But their story isn’t told in most history books.

Gloria Arjona, a Spanish lecturer at CalTech, studies rancho corridos (Mexican folk songs) to know more about these women, called Las Adelitas (or Soldaderas). 

“They were not welcome because they [men] had their prejudices toward women because they thought it was a danger or inconvenience to have women on the battlefield.” Arjona says. “What many Adelitas did is they pretended that they were men.”

Adelita. Credit: Archivo Casasola.  

Adelita. Credit: Archivo Casasola.