Loyola University Chicago

Women's Studies and Gender Studies

Mary Griffin Essay Award

Mary Griffin Award Winner

“Embracing Diversity: Feminist Practices in Bolivian Contexts” by Neida Blanco is proudly our winner of the Mary Griffin Essay Award! 


This paper delves into the multifaceted landscape of feminist actions among women in Bolivia, navigating personal narratives, scholarly perspectives, and Bolivian contexts. Drawing from bell hooks' notion of political dedication to mass-based feminism, the exploration uncovers nuanced expressions of feminist practices that challenge conventional paradigms. The narratives span from Adela Zamudio's early activism advocating for education to contemporary endeavors of groups like Mujeres Creando, weaving indigenous and mestiza perspectives with global feminist ideologies. Through the lens of personal narratives, my mother's example of feminist actions through the nursing school, alongside her colleagues' efforts, exemplifies the transformative impact of feminist praxis on education and societal structures. Despite the absence of a universally accepted, mass-based feminism, Bolivian feminist endeavors embody principles of justice and equity. The paper concludes by celebrating Bolivia's diverse tapestry of feminism as a source of strength and unity, offering hope for a future built on genuine empowerment and respect for all.

Neida's research interests encompass feminist practices within various societal contexts, examining how these practices manifest in areas such as education and family dynamics, and how they are influenced by cultural beliefs. She is particularly interested in exploring feminist actions and ideologies that may not explicitly carry the label of feminism but nonetheless contribute to gender equity and social justice. Additionally, drawing from her experience working with survivors of domestic violence, She is intrigued by the ways in which personal experiences of trauma can shape individuals' perspectives on feminist practices and beliefs. Neida seeks to understand how individuals navigate their own empowerment journeys while providing support to others experiencing similar challenges.


Curious. Creative. Transformative.

The Mary Griffin Essay Award is designed to honor excellence in scholarship and writing among the graduate students in the Women’s Studies and Gender Studies Program. 

The award is endowed in the name of Mary Griffin (1916-1998), a member of the order of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (B.V.M.), who was an English professor at Mundelein College and, later, Loyola University Chicago.  She was an innovator in education and an advocate for social justice, participating in both the Civil Rights Movement and the Feminist Movement in the 1970s.   

This is an annual award. Students are encouraged to submit to the Graduate Program Director their best essay written as part of their WSGS coursework during the current calendar year. The award recipient will receive a stipend and opportunity to present their research in the WSGS Feminist Lecture Series. 

The deadline for 2025 submissions will be posted during the Fall 2024 semester.