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Remembering Carmen Delgado Votaw: 1935-2017

Posted on March 20, 2017
Carmen Delgado

Carmen Delgado Votaw

Carmen Delgado Votaw, a leading advocate for women’s rights both nationally and internationally, passed away on February 18, 2017. She was a key member of Vision 2020, serving as both a Visionary Delegate and a charter member of our National Leadership Circle.

The entire Vision 2020 network extends our deepest condolences to her family and friends. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from such an intelligent, compassionate and beloved civil rights pioneer.

Carmen’s life and outstanding work in increasing equality and opportunity throughout the world was shared in a Congressional session last month. Congressman Jamie Raskin of Carmen’s home state of Maryland honored her with a beautiful tribute, which we encourage you to read in the below Congressional Record.

HONORING THE LIFE OF CARMEN DELGADO VOTAW

Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor and commemorate the remarkable life of Carmen Delgado Votaw, one of my constituents who passed away on February 18, 2017 at the age of 82. Ms. Votaw was a civil and human rights giant and passionate participant in the global women's rights activist community.

Ms. Votaw, who was born in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, spent her career acting upon a vision of empowerment and inclusion for all women, especially in Latin America. She was a born community organizer, using immense tact, intellect, and grace to educate and enlighten others in order to open up cultural and political avenues for the advancement of women. Due to her years of work and advocacy in Latin America, she is credited with an increase in the number of countries that have signed the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; a greater number of women in political and appointed offices; improved access to technology for rural women; and a higher literacy rate among women and girls.

Ms. Votaw received on multiple occasions presidential appointments in recognition of her outstanding abilities, including being appointed as Deputy Chair to the National Advisory Committee for Women. She served as Chief of Staff to Jaime Fuster of Puerto Rico in the House of Representatives, marking the first time a Hispanic woman had held that title. She was a founding member and President of the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women and a board member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. Ms. Votaw traveled around the globe to promote her agenda of civil and human rights. She visited 70 countries to participate in and speak at women's rights forums, including five United Nations World Conferences on Women. She is a published author, most notably having written the biographies of other distinguished Puerto Rican woman.

Among the organizations that have honored Ms. Votaw for her contributions to women's rights are the U.S. Marshals Service, the Instituto de Puerto Rico of New York, the National Institute for Women of Color, Hispanic USA Magazine, Federally Employed Women (FEW), and the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women. She has received the Hispanic Heritage Award for Education, a Civil Rights Award from NASA, MANA's Las Primeras Award, the National Cuban American Women's Association Award, and the National Council of Hispanic Women's Outstanding Achievement Award. She was inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame.

Even with her chock-full schedule of global engagement and leadership, Ms. Votaw was deeply devoted to her family and to her role as a grandmother. Please join me in extending condolences to her family and expressing gratitude for her life of dedication to helping all people find their voices. She made tangible contributions to the civil and human rights movements, the effects of which will be felt for generations to come.