Who is she?
Rigoberta Menchú Tum is a K’iche’ political activist, an indigenous Guatemalan woman who promotes indigenous rights and fights for the rights of women in her country.
What did she do?
Menchu campaigned against the human rights violations committed by the Guatemalan army during their civil war, which lasted from 1960 to 1996. In 1982, she narrated a book titled My Name is Rigoberta Menchú and this is how my Conscience was Born, which won international acclaim and called attention to the ongoing conflict in Guatemala including the ill treatment of its mostly Mayan people. It took until 2006 for seven former members of Guatemala’s government to be charged with genocide and torture. Menchú won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for “her work in social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.” She created the Rigoberta Menchú Tum Foundation, which helped exiled indigenous Guatemalans return home.
Why does that matter?
Rigoberta Menchú Tum gave a voice to the indigenous people of her country and paved the way for justice to be served. There is still a long way to go before the country is completely healed, but many people are dedicated to the task.