Women in Colombia’s Presidential Race

Only 6 women are part of the list of 30 candidates for the presidential elections in Colombia in 2022. Learn about their profiles and how they are projected on the political scene.

Paloma Valencia, Francia Márquez, Dilian Francisca Toro and María Fernanda Cabal

In the history of Latin America there have barely been 9 women presidents; none in Colombia and only 6, through elections. Everything seems to indicate that this scenario will not change by 2022. Photos: TW-PalomaValenciaL, TW-FranciaMarquezM, TW-DilianFrancisca, TW-MariaFdaCabal

LatinAmerican Post | María Fernanda Ramírez Ramos

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Leer en español: Las mujeres en la carrera presidencial de Colombia

In the history of Latin America there have barely been 9 women presidents; none in Colombia and only 6, through elections. Everything seems to indicate that this scenario will not change by 2022.

The deployment in the media and polls indicates that female candidates do not have the same strength as their male counterparts for electoral contests. However, their profiles are very interesting and, ultimately, these women will be key in the future of the country.

The August Invamer poll on the intention to vote for the presidential elections did not even contemplate the inclusion of the pre-candidates in the general list, which is led by Gustavo Petro (30.2%), Sergio Fajardo (14.5%), and Rodolfo Hernández (11%). However, their pulse was measured within the parties and coalitions that will have to win on March 13, 2022 in intra-party consultations if they hope to continue in the race.

In this scenario, women like Maria Fernanda Cabal, Ángela María Robledo, or Francia Márquez seem to have a clearer role as vice-presidential formulas. However, nothing is written and they are obliged to strengthen their aspirations to beat figures such as Óscar Iván Zuluaga, Gustavo Petro, Sergio Fajardo, or Alejandro Gaviria in consultations.

The profiles of the candidates

María Fernanda Cabal and Paloma Valencia are the feminine bet of Uribismo. The two have been controversial and heavy-handed figures. The one who so far has shown a stronger aspiration is Senator Cabal, a political scientist from the Universidad de Los Andes. In addition to her participation in Congress, in the House of Representatives from 2014 to 2018 and currently in the Senate, her most prominent position has been as Coordinator of the Democracy program at the Universidad de Los Andes.

For her part, Paloma Valencia is a lawyer and philosopher, and a specialist in Economics from the Universidad de Los Andes. She also has a master's degree in Creative Writing. She has worked as a journalist and also served one year in the Attorney General's Office and another in National Planning. In addition, she comes from a family with a conservative political tradition: she is the granddaughter of former President Guillermo León Valencia and Mario Laserna, founder of the Universidad de Los Andes. Her father, Ignacio Valencia, was a congressman, and hr uncle, Aurelio Irragori, Minister of Agriculture.

In the Historical Pact, Arelis Uriana Guariyu, a Wuayúu indigenous leader, and Francia Márquez, a social and environmental leader, clearly represent the regions and minorities. Their ideas support stronger environmental policies, and economic and social development in the territories, with a gender perspective.

Guariyu is the first Wayúu woman to be a presidential candidate. She has served as a trainer and in the Women, Family and Generation Council of the Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), and coordinator of the Continental Link of Indigenous Women of the Americas (ECMIA).

Francia Márquez is an Afro-descendant leader from Cauca who in 2018 received the Goldman Environmental Prize, which is known as the Nobel Prize for social and environmental leaders. She studied Law at Santiago de Cali University. He has fought tenaciously against illegal and exploitative mining, and with her actions she has achieved the recognition of rights for Afro-descendant communities. She was on The BBC's 100 women of 2019 list and obtained the Joan Alsina distinction for Human Rights, among others.

From the center-left, in the Coalition of Hope, is Ángela María Robledo, who was Gustavo Petro's vice-presidential formula in the 2018 elections. She is a Psychologist and Master in Social Policy from the Javeriana University. She has held positions in the academy as academic dean of the Faculty of Psychology in Javeriana and President of the Colombian Association of the Faculties of Psychology. Since 2010 she has been part of the House of Representatives and has been recognized as the best congresswoman in the country, on various occasions. In addition, she was social director of the Restrepo Barco Foundation and director of the Administrative Department of Social Welfare of the District in the government of Antanas Mockus in Bogotá.

The other female candidate is Dilian Francisca Toro, current director of the U Party. She is a doctor, a specialist in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology, and has been an advisor to the IDB on health issues. Of the pre-candidates, she is the one with the most experienced in the executive and has held the most public positions, as she has been Governor of the Valley, mayor, councilor, secretary of health, and senator. However, it has been immersed in several judicial scandals for money laundering, procedural fraud, and irregularities in the Valley School Feeding Program, among others.

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Colombia, a political scene dominated by men

According to the report Women in Politics: 2021, carried out by UN Women, Colombia occupies position 35 in the list that orders countries according to the percentage of women with ministerial positions. As for women in parliament, they occupy position 122, with just 20% representation.

Women from various sectors have pointed out misogyny within political parties, without distinction between left and right. It should be remembered that Angela María Robledo, upon withdrawing from Human Colombia, stated that her departure from the movement was encouraged by machismo in the party. "My condition as a feminist and free woman has been severely attacked from some sectors of the movement," she said.

Likewise, it is common for women to receive insults based on their sexual orientation, physical appearance, or romantic relationships, beyond criticism of their performance as public officials. An example is the trend #LaMozaDeDuque to refer to María Paula Correa, one of the most important figures in the government. More recently, the way in which the resignation of Carolina Soto Losada , co-director of the Banco de la República, to support the candidacy of her husband Alejandro Gaviria has been criticized. He himself pointed out the machismo in his networks.

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