Have you ever heard of Hermila Treviño-Sauceda? Proooooobably not.
This 58-year-old Coachella, Calif., resident is pretty much the badass that’s considered “the leader of the women farmworkers movement in the US” by the Women’s World Summit Foundation (WWSF), the same foundation that awarded her the 2016 Prize for Women’s Creativity in Rural Life.
The WWSF is an international humanitarian non-profit organization that was created in Geneva in 1991. It’s dedicated to giving voice to the thoughts of women and children, who so often have very little say “in shaping the economic and political space in which they live.” Mily, as Hermila is often called, was recognized by the organization because of her over 40 years of tireless activism on behalf of farmworkers and female farmworkers in particular.
Mily was born in Bellingham, Washington in 1956, but as the daughter of migrant farmworkers she found herself traveling back and forth across the US/Mexico border. She began working in the fields when she was only 7 years old.
After being sexually assaulted while working, she told her father only to be asked what she had done “to attract the attention of the assailant” and then her dad went right back to talking to the assailant como si nada. She experienced firsthand the particular challenges that women and children face in the fields.
She became an activist in her teen years and her activism has included using skits to demonstrate the conditions that women face in the field, which include sexual harassment, exposure to pesticides and domestic violence.
The award from the WWSF this year is by no means the first award that she’s ever received in recognition of her work for the advancement of female farmworkers.