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Will Female Candidates Have a Choice for Colombia's 2022 elections?

Francia Márquez and Ángela María Robledo appear as disruptive presidential candidates for 2022, presenting proposals in favor of reducing inequalities and promoting well-being in a context of crisis in Colombia.

The Woman Post | Diana Sedano Valdes

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Latin America faces political changes amidst the need for recovery after the crisis derived from the pandemic. The electoral landscape is already setting a trend with contests in Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and upcoming elections in Brazil and Colombia for 2022. In the Colombian case, the popularity of the incumbent president, Iván Duque Márquez, stands at 29 %, reflecting a scenario in which the candidates will seek to get rid of this image -even those of his political party-. Thus, citizens will have to decide on a context (not only local but global) of lack of credibility in the institutions as a result of poor public management to reduce inequalities and promote well-being. This is how different political currents see this as an opportunity and candidates such as Francia Márquez and Ángela María Robledo appear in the political arena.

Although the official period of presidential electoral campaigns in Colombia has not yet begun, candidates and alliances are already beginning to be visible; three fronts are the most popular. The right shows a possible coalition that brings together Alejandro Char, Martha Lucía Ramírez, Dilian Francisca Toro, Federico Gutiérrez, Enrique Peñalosa and Tomás Uribe as possible candidates. The left would include Gustavo Petro leading the coalition Historic Pact with the Decentes group, Polo Democrático Alternativo, and other movements. The center Coalition for Hope is made up of political leaders from the moderate "left", the center, and democratic liberals like Sergio Fajardo, Humberto de la Calle, Juan Fernando Cristo, Juan Manuel Galán, and Jorge Enrique Robledo. According to the latest voter's intention survey, Gustavo Petro is the most favorable candidate followed by Sergio Fajardo, Alejandro Char, and Federico Gutiérrez.

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Within this political outlook, Francia Márquez and Ángela María Robledo decided to run for the presidency. On April 5 and 6, 2021, the National Feminist Convention (led by the Estamos Listas (We’re Ready) movement) was held in the department of Tolima, with the presence of 100 women and 3,000 more online in 26 departments and 177 municipalities in Colombia and abroad. The convention created a stage that served as a political platform for women representing a feminist presidential candidacy and for the closed list to Congress Together for Equality. The candidates will be supported by We're Ready and committed to the implementation of the manifesto for the defense of life and care.

On the one hand, Francia Márquez is a recognized political and social leader from Cauca (a region that has been strongly affected by both violence and State neglect). She is an internationally awarded human rights and environmental activist for her fight against large-scale and illegal mining and her representation of social leaders and marginalized communities. She is currently a presidential candidate with Historic Pact but does not refuse to run as an independent candidate. On the other hand, Ángela María Robledo is a recognized politician and congresswoman, who has passed through academia and has already been a candidate for vice president with Gustavo Petro in the 2018 elections. She is currently a candidate and will seek to lead the Coalition for Hope.

Both candidates have been clear in expressing that they do not want to participate as accomplices, but rather to be the leaders of their coalitions. Thus, Francia Márquez will have to face Gustavo Petro, but also a patriarchal country marked by extractivism. Ángela María Robledo will have to compete with figures who seek to position themselves strongly, such as Sergio Fajardo. Although both compete on different fronts, a formula between these two candidates would be interesting. There is a precedent for a female formula in the 2014 elections; Clara López and Aída Avella ran for president and vice president. Therefore, by 2022, Márquez could propose a change marked by the inclusion and decentralization of the State, with the support of rural areas, while Robledo could use all her accumulated political capital in the traditional spheres of Bogotá and the main cities. There is a lot of uncertainty for the next elections. It will be a changing and interesting landscape to analyze in the coming months of the campaign.

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