Today, Ada Lovelace Day, is an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science.
So, I thought... how do I want to do this? Well, I could talk about Ana María Di Lonardo, as she sums up both meanings of today, at least for me.
Because talking about her means to talk about Plaza de Mayo Mothers and Grandmothers, and about the darkest years in my country, which also are remembered today here.
Ana María Di Lonardo is a scientific, a 73 years old geneticist, who is known as a Human Rights geneticist. She was the founder of the Immunology Service of Hospital Durand and the National Genetic Data Bank which, since 1984, has been doing a thorough search of missing relatives during the last military dictatorship.
She had under her custody more than 11 thousand DNA and returned their lost identity to 84 kidnapped grandchildren. And when, in 1990, she got a Human Rights award of 20 thousand dollars from French government, she donated it to buy basic equipment for molecular biology work with DNA.
Dr Di Lonardo devoted four decades of her life to science, she is retired since a year ago, but heads a foundation with she will fund research projects of young doctors.
Let's do a little of history, then:
Between 1976 and 1983, Argentina was governed by a repressive military dictatorship. This government considered students, intellectuals, and politicians as dissidents and the dictatorial government severely censored and brutalized members of these groups. An estimated 30.000 people were kidnapped, tortured, and killed during these years. They were kidnapped from their homes, and government denied any information regarding their whereabouts; therefore, this people were referred to as "the disappeared."
A particularly horrific aspect of this involved kidnapping pregnant women and taking them to secret detention centers ("pozos" or "holes") where they were held until they gave birth. After that, mothers usually were killed and the babies were given to families with close ties to the government, and even to those who tortured and/or killed their parents.
The children of people deemed subversive by government were also kidnapped. That's how approximately 220 babies were raised in adopted homes as a result of these brutal practices.
In 1977, a group of mothers and grandmothers of disappeared people began a peaceful march around the Plaza de Mayo, in front of our government buildings, with white cloth diappers covering her heads, as a symbol of her missing sons and daughters. They were Mothers and Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo. Although, deep in their heart, most of them knew their children had been killed, they hoped their efforts would help them to locate their grandchildren.
By 1980, one of them read an article describing a method for determining family relationships using biochemical markers on blood cells, and thought that it might be possible to develop a test to prove their family ties with children adopted during those dark years. Eventually, they got Mary-Claire King help, an American geneticist from the University of California, Berkeley. King, in collaboration with Argentinean geneticist Ana Maria Di Lonardo, developed genetic tests to identify grandchildren of some of them.
After 1983, the newly elected president established a commission to investigate the fates of the disappeared, and they provided a structure for any children who were adopted under suspicious conditions during the period of the military government to have his or her DNA checked with the National Genetic Data Bank, which was run by Ana Maria Di Lonardo.
By today, genetic tests proved the identities of 98 children who had been kidnapped and adopted during the military rule.
Ana Maria Di Lonardo strength, knowledge and compassion was a big part of this achievement.
So, today, I choose to honour her, and along with her, all mothers and grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo.This entry was originally posted at http://birggitt.dreamwidth.org/106971.html. Please comment there using OpenID.