It is the second time in the history of Colombia that two women are vying for the Vice Presidency of the Republic in the current election period.
Also is the first time that the two candidates are not from Bogotá since they are women from the Pacific region, specifically from the working class and representatives of the Afro-Colombian community. This shows that regions are essential, places that have suffered the consequences of the armed conflict will have representation, and in either of the two mandates, the inhabitants of these regions will be essential to developing their Government Programs.
The foregoing demonstrates more and more the inclusion in the political and social sphere, not only of women but of communities that have historically lagged behind.
We evidenced this change in the elections for Congress on March 13, where there was an increase in female participation with 30% in the Senate and 28% in the House of Representatives, which in general terms represents an increase of 9.1% regarding the formation of the previous Congress. At the global level, this is also evident since UN figures indicate that about 22 women are Presidents or Heads of State, and it is estimated that 21% head ministerial positions.
Francia Márquez and Marelen Castillo are the vice-presidential formulas of Gustavo Petro (Historic Pact) and Rodolfo Hernández (Anti-Corruption League) respectively. It should be noted that they are not political women, and neither of them has held public or popularly elected positions.
Francia Márquez is a social leader, environmental activist, lawyer, and politician born in the municipality of Suárez, Cauca, in 1982. She did an agricultural technician in the Sena and later studied law. When she was in the first semesters of her degree, she established protection against the delivery of mining titles in the department, which caused her displacement forced from the community where she resided.
Her cause is the fight against illegal mining, extractive projects, and the contamination of the rivers in Cauca; from there, she has been working as a defender, and her discourse has focused on historically excluded communities and regions. Likewise, her feminist vision of politics has put racism, classism, and machismo in public debate in the different spheres of society, placing greater emphasis on Colombian politics.
She has served as President of the Association of Afro-descendant Women of Yolombó and supported the Ethnic Commission for Peace in processes of participation of ethnic peoples in the framework of the dialogues of the peace process, achieving the construction of the Ethnic Chapter for Peace. She was also a consultant for the project Construction for the Prevention and Self-care of the Association of Community Councils of Northern Cauca, supported by the USAID Human Rights program. One of its most outstanding achievements was in 2018 when it was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, similar to an environmental Nobel Prize.
Marelen Castillo was born in Cali, Valle del Cauca, in 1968. She is an academic with great potential in education and women’s issues. She is an expert in curricular design issues in virtual and remote higher education as well consultant, advisor, and lecturer.
Castillo has an excellent academic and professional background. She has a degree in Biology and Chemistry from the Santiago de Cali University; Industrial Engineer from the Autonomous University of the West; Master in Business Administration and Management from Tecnológico de Monterrey and a Doctor in Education, with emphasis on Organizational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University (Florida).
She has held important positions as academic vice-rector of the Lumen Gentium Catholic University Foundation. Castillo has also been academic general vice-rector and director of strategic initiatives of the Corporación Universitaria Minuto de Dios. She has also served as director of the Educational and Training Mobility Scheme project – EMEF.
Both candidates, Francia and Marelen, have great virtues and experience in different areas, so they have a historic opportunity for change for Colombia.
Women are called to take decisive roles in society and rewrite history in an inclusive way and with a perspective of gender. In either case, whichever candidate wins, it will be an “achievement in terms of diversity and representation.”