Francia Márquez: What is Expected of an Ecofeminist Vice President?

The Triumph of Francia Márquez is also a Victory for the Feminist and Environmental Movements. Her new Position as Vice President, and Possible Equality Minister, Gives Hope to the Various Social Movements that Have Supported Her.

Francia Marquez, Vice President of Colombia

Photo: TW-FranciaMarquezM

LatinAmerican Post | María Fernanda Ramírez Ramos

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Leer en español: Francia Márquez: ¿qué se espera de una vicepresidenta ecofeminista?

The new vice president of Colombia is marking a milestone in the history of the country and the region. Her face and story have gone around the world and there are many expectations about her management. It is not for less, this 40-year-old woman has obtained a series of achievements and recognitions of the highest level.

Her campaign was carried out under the slogan "I am because we are" (soy porque somos), through which she sought to represent "nobodies", as she herself refers to them. It is about those ordinary people, from the communities that have been excluded and vulnerable, and that, in short, have not felt represented by the Colombian elites that have traditionally held power. In her speech, after the victory was announced, she especially thanked the diverse LGTBIQ+ community, women, youth, children, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, peasants, and the Afro-descendant, racial, and Palenquera community.

She also pointed out that work will be done to eradicate structural racism, patriarchy, promote the rights of the LGTBQ + community and protect "the rights of our mother earth, of the big house." She will be the first Afro-descendant woman to be vice president of the South American country, as well as the first feminist to take office. This is fundamental, because the fact of being a woman and "breaking the glass ceiling" does not lead to significant changes in favor of reducing gender gaps.

In fact, the candidacy of Francia Márquez was supported by well-known feminists and environmentalists. Among them, the support of Angela Davis stood out, one of the most prominent feminists and activists for the rights of the black community in recent history. However, it was not just temporary support, but goes back to a relationship of more than 10 years of supporting the Colombian's struggles against extractivism and the rights of black communities.

A hope based on facts

Unlike other traditional politicians, the candidacy of Francia Márquez moved the majority of feminist, Afro-descendant, social and environmental groups because her candidacy did not only represent promises, but was backed by a struggle and work of more than a decade. Likewise, during the campaign, in her candidacy, she was also critical of Gustavo Petro, especially on gender issues.

Her intelligence, charisma, training and leadership skills are reflected in her awards and achievements. She was president of the National Committee for Peace, Reconciliation and Coexistence of the National Peace Council, where she worked for the peace agreements; She was recognized in 2019 as one of the 100 most influential women in the world according to the BBC; in 2018 she won the Goldman Environmental Award and in 2015 she received the National Award for the defense of Human Rights in Colombia for leading "The March of the Turbans".

In addition, she led various organizations in the department of Cauca for the defense of a dignified life in the communities and the protection of the environment against the delivery of mining titles to multinational companies. In this sense, it has worked for the defense of the territories and denounces how the exploitation of natural resources joins other factors to generate violence against the population. In her speech and proposals, she shows how today it is impossible to separate the environmental struggle from social issues, even more so in Latin American territories that have a large population that is affected by the indiscriminate exploitation of resources.

In this way, if anyone knows the problems of the communities forgotten by the State in Colombia, it is her. In Francia Márquez, a series of factors converge that feminism has called intersectionality, which allow her to know the processes of discrimination and exclusion like no one else. She is a black woman, a single mother, had her first child at the age of 16, is a social and environmental leader, a victim of attacks and a member of a mining community, among other factors.

From her ecofeminist vision, the elected vice president has promoted the defense of biodiversity and the environment to guarantee the quality of life of communities and women. For this reason, her speech revolves around dignity, the protection of the territory, the promotion of care and the need to promote "nice life" (vivir sabroso), in harmony with the environment.

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What can you expect?

Petro announced that in addition to being vice president, Márquez will be at the head of the new Ministry of Equality, from which she will seek to close the gaps that create inequality for communities that have historically been excluded. However, for this to become a reality, said ministry must first be created and passed before the Congress of the Republic. The latter is key, because for the environmental and gender proposals (and other issues) proposed by the vice president to become a reality, they will need to be approved in Congress.

As a vote is not a blank check, the citizens who elected her will also demand the fulfillment of those campaign promises. However, the road will not be easy, as each project requires financing. In this sense, if the intention is to move towards green economies, to put aside the extractivist economy, it will be necessary to find financing from other sources. It must be taken into account that, according to information from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, around 32% of Colombia's exports in 2021 were oil and 7% gold.

In this regard, it is necessary to remember that these ambitious structural changes require a transition and that, surely, they will take time. However, the important thing is that action is taken from now on to protect the environment and that the necessary guarantees for sustainability are created.