Portrait of Maria Aguirre de Bañuelos outside of her home in Coachella, Ca.
Maria Aguirre Rosales De Bañuelos was one of the founding members of the organization Lideres Campesinas. Born in the state of Chihuahua in Mexico in 1930, she first came to the U.S in 1977 to work in the fields. In the early 1980s she began working at the Coachella Peter Rabbit packing plant, a seasonal job she held for 20 years.
Maria was in an abusive relationship for most of her life. She realized this early in her marriage but family and tradition demanded that she stay with her husband. At the age of sixty she attended one of the first meetings of an organization that would eventually become Lideres Campesinas. During that meeting she heard other women speak of their experience of domestic abuse and for the first time she saw herself from the outside, she gained self-awareness. This was a turning point in her life, before this she had never thought that she did not have to live with violence. She began the slow process of freeing herself from that relationship. With Lideres Campesinas, Maria went on to travel throughout the Southwest United States to educate women about their rights