Malala vs Sor Juana

Mexican of the month presented by ANA RUIZ

Can you mention the biggest similarity these two women have?

Have you ever thought about cutting your hair to set a deadline? I know it sounds strange, but this was actually what one of Mexico’s most important figures did. Sor Juana, author and human rights activist, used to cut her hair to set personal deadlines, she would trim off her locks and set to finish a task before they regrew! Would you do the same? 

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was born in 1648 and grew up in an Hacienda in the state of Mexico. Born at a time when women could not dream of proper education, Sor Juana stood apart from her contemporaries. From a young age, she learned to read with the help of her grandfather and by the age of three, she was starting to read “Amecameca” — a language created by peasants and merchants in a nearby town. Her grandfather imbued her with a love for languages and a passion for education. She loved reading the Greek and Roman classics and enjoyed the Spanish literature of the time. She penned a few literary masterpieces herself, which are still discussed by literature lovers worldwide. 

Because women weren’t allowed access to education, Sor Juana toyed with the idea of disguising herself as a man to attend college, but in the end, she turned to the monastery life where she would be allowed to read and study sacred texts. Soon, she made her way into the royal court, where she had the opportunity to discuss basic women’s rights…of course, women’s education was one of her priorities!

Sor Juana has gone down in history as one of Mexico’s top advocates for women’s rights, and as a renowned author worldwide. She has become a figure of freedom and courage in times of darkness and hierarchies. She was a woman ahead of her time, she was concerned about the social and political differences and the inequality among the minorities — women, indigenous and black people.  I assume Sor Juana had no idea that it would take more than 347 years and counting to achieve equality. 

See? She’s no different than Malala, at the end of the day both of them looked for progress regarding women’s rights.


Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: biografía de 1648-1695. (2019). Retrieved from

 Espindola, J. (2019). Sor Juana una mujer libre y valiente. Retrieved from