When Padilla de Sanz was born in 1864, the fight for women’s rights was facing an uphill battle. Puerto Rico would not grant women the right to vote until 1929, when La Hija was well into her sixties. Throughout her lifetime, Padilla was a fervent advocate for the equality of women, believing that women were not innately inferior to men. Padilla specifically addressed-and debunked- the pervasive notion that work done by women in society was less valuable. The following documents reflect La Hija’s belief that women played a significant role in society inside and outside the domestic sphere.
"Ana Roque de Duprey""Y al no poder votar aqui en su suelo,se fué a la Democracia de los astrospara dejar su voto en la urna del cielo"
Translation:“And upon not being able to vote here in her land,she went to the Democracy of the starsto leave her vote in the urn of the heavens”
In this short poem written by La Hija in honor of her late friend, the suffragist Ana Roque de Duprey, Padilla de Sanz paid tribute to her friend by highlighting her achievements and noting the difficult challenges she faced in the fight for women's suffrage. La Hija bitterly wrote that in the end, Roque de Duprey had to ascend to the heavens in order to have her vote count. In a note underneath the poem, Padilla explained that although Roque de Duprey was finally able to cast her vote in an election before her death, it was voided due to a technicality. While Roque de Duprey died thinking she had finally achieved her dream of voting, La Hija's bitterness over the technicality and the larger struggle to obtain women's suffrage is evident.
"La mujer ante la guerra"
“Nunca como hoy, ha merecido la mujer el alto concepto que su nombre significa; y es porque ella…enseña al hombre con hechos, no con palabras, cómo debe considerarse como a su igual en el estado social, ya que le supera en muchos aspectos de la vida…”
"More than ever, women deserve the esteemed notion that her reputation conveys; and it’s because women…teach men with actions, not with words, how they must consider women their equal in the social state, since women surpass them in many aspects of life…”
In this excerpt, La Hija extolled the vital role that women play in war, highlighting their role serving for the Red Cross and entering the most dangerous war zones. She made it clear that although women and men had different roles in the war effort, the jobs performed by the women were equally as important. As the quote above demonstrates, La Hija believed that women had unequivocally proven their equal status with men.
"Las mujeres no contamos"
“La eterna canción de que el cerebro de la mujer está formado en condiciones muy inferiores al de los hombres, está descartado hace tiempo…”
“The eternal song that the brain of the woman is formed in conditions inferior to that of a man, was refuted a long time ago…”
La Hija addressed a pattern she saw in the press saying how women have not contributed to the advancement of civilization. She pointed out various accomplished women in history to demonstrate that women are not innately inferior to men. Rather, not only do they have their own accomplishments, but also they played a role in the achievements of men by raising them and instilling proper values and work ethic.
"La labor de las madres en el hogar"
“Sí, porque los hogares son el corazón de la patria… se nutren los pueblos. La labor que la madre portorriqeña puede realizar en bien del terruno es insuperable.”
“Yes, because the homes are the heart of the homeland…they nourish nations. The work that the Puerto Rican mother can carry out for the sake of the homeland is unsurpassable.”
La Hija wrote about the crucial role that mothers play in instilling morals in their children, therefore playing a huge role in their successes. She mentioned important and powerful figures like George Washington and Alfonso XIII to show how their mothers influenced their achievements. Specifically, Padilla de Sanz identified the belief that the work done in the private sphere is seen as inferior to the work done in the public sphere. She contested this belief by explaining how crucial the work done by women in the home helps support the nation.