When Lila Dominguez and her husband moved to Washington from Argentina in 1949, they were so sure they would return that they left their furniture and other household goods there. "We thought we were going to stay two or three years . . . until the reign of Argentine dictator Juan Peron was over. But Peron stayed 20 years," Dominguez laughed.
During her 34 years in Washington, Dominguez, with her husband, Loredo, built a successful real estate business, Alta Enterprises, that develops and manages area shopping centers. When her husband died in 1976, Dominguez, a longtime civic and community worker, became president of Alta Enterprises, excelling in the limited ranks of Hispanic businesswomen.
Dominguez is one of six outstanding women of the District's Latino community who will be honored Friday in one of more than a dozen events scheduled in observance of Women's History Week, which continues through Saturday. An essay contest, a tribute to Korean women and a testimonial to women clergy are among other events in the celebration.
Women's History Week is observed each year around March 8, which is International Women's Day. On that date in 1857 women textile and garment workers in New York began demonstrating against low wages and oppressive working conditions.
The District celebration is organized by the D.C. Commission for Women, an advocacy and referral agency.
"The focus of the celebration is honoring women past and present for their service to the community," said Marsha Russell, legislative assistant to the commission.
In addition to her work in real estate, Dominguez, a native of Puerto Rico, has been active for many years in various civic organizations, including Barney Neighborhood House, the Puerto Rican Women's Organization, the Council of Puerto Rican Organizations and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Other Latino women to be recognized in the ceremony at the Marie Reed Learning Center are: Marcela Davila, a senior citizens advocate; Raquel Frankel, founder of the Mexican American National Women's Association and former director of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; Sonia Gutierrez, principal at the Gordon Adult Educational Center; Helen Soto Holland, a longtime volunteer and interpreter for Hispanic inmates at the D.C. Department of Corrections; and Luz Ramierz, who is active in the arts community.
They were selected by a committee made up of staff members of the D.C. Office of Latino Affairs and representatives of the Hispanic community.
"We were looking for work in various fields in the community, as well as people who had not been recognized before by our office," said Rita Soler of the Office of Latino Affairs, who helped coordinate the selections. The awards presentation was funded by donations from businesses and individuals.
Other events celebrating Women's History Week include:
A seminar at 12:30 p.m. today on "The Struggles of Korean Working Women Today: The Role We Can Play," Third World Women's Project, 1901 Q St. NW.
A reception at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow for winners of the Women's History Week Essay Contest, District Building, fifth floor.
A Hispanic Women's Day awards ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Friday honoring outstanding Latino women, Marie Reed Learning Center, 2200 Champlain St. NW.
A film festival promoting racial equity, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at American University, Ward Circle Building. At noon Saturday will be the D.C. Women's Clergy Association's testimonial service in recognition of women ministers, District Building, first floor.
A photo exhibit of last year's outstanding Latino women and "Black Women: Achievements Against the Odds" is on display through Saturday on the fifth floor of the District Bulding.
"Women and Movies III" continues through Sunday at the American Film Institute theater in the Kennedy Center. "Women in Higher Education" exhibit is on display through March 18 on the third floor of George Washington University's Marvin Center, 800 21st St. NW.