PROGRAMME DIRECTOR | WOMEN POLITICAL LEADERS
From your Bachelor degree to your position at the High Commission for the Refugees, your career is significantly oriented towards Foreign Policy. Where does this interest come from and what have been the main motivations that helped you reach this level of experience?
My interest in international humanitarian and development work sparked at a very young age. I knew I wanted to work for improving the lives of persons in vulnerable conditions. I grew up in Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia where I saw how people were struck by poverty and the high degree of inequality. When I was a student at the University of Notre Dame, I had the opportunity to work as a volunteer delivering humanitarian aid for asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in Thailand. Some of them were escaping violence and others were looking for better economic opportunities, both groups were marginalized. They lived in fear of deportation and were underpaid if they had a job. The implemented policies and the reality of the people on the ground were disconnected. I wanted to work to close that gap. I believed and still believe that States have a responsibility to protect and that we can all produce change for a better world. These ideals have been the main motivation through my career so far.
Can you tell us more about your role within the Humanitarian Affairs Coordination Office?
An earthquake hit Ecuador on April 2016. More than 200,000 persons were directly affected by it and it took the lives of around 700 persons. I wanted to contribute to the ongoing humanitarian response. I started working as part of the information management team for the National Reports Office. I produced information to help coordinate the efforts of non-for-profit organizations and other U.N. agencies working in the different affected areas. I had been a Research Coordinator in a consultancy group so I knew how to produce reliable information and I understood how the country’s governmental institutions worked. Our humanitarian partners and donors used the information we produced to better identify the needs of the affected population and orient interventions.
Can you describe your daily environment at Women Political Leaders (WPL)? To what extent is your current role in the Forum linked to the rest of your career?
My every day at WPL varies a lot according to the ongoing projects in which I am involved. Every day I coordinate activities with different partners from various international organizations, private sector and/or governments concerning our ongoing projects. There are days where I focus most of my attention to researching and drafting concept notes for meetings, panels and round tables. Others, I focus on project design and proposal writing. My work at WPL fits well in my career path because I wanted to have a global experience and understand the macro political dynamics. Moreover, I wanted to work for increasing women’s political representation especially in matters concerning security, peace and economic empowerment. There is no chance of durable peace neither of sustainable development without gender equality in all levels of leadership.
What has been the biggest challenge you have had to face throughout your career?
I cannot pinpoint to a specific challenge. There have been many that stem from changing sectors (public/international organizations/non-for-profit/ consultancies), countries/cities, teams, subject and content matters. However, I have always been aware that it is me that is constantly looking for challenges and some are harder to overcome than others but it is also what keeps me interested. Even when I fall, I know there is no other option but to shake it off and keep on going. There is no easy road for career fulfillment and I like to explore.
What advices would you give to a 18 years old woman seeking a career path similar to yours?
The words of advice I would give to a young woman are:
1. Seize opportunities that take you away from your comfort zone. This is when real transformative learning occurs.
2. Do not let cynics put you down. Be persistent in pursuing the world you want to live in.
3. Allow yourself to be constantly learning. Every job experience and person you meet will teach you something. Most importantly, make the best of each learning opportunity.
4. Even if you find it scary or uncomfortable: ask and negotiate, you are worth it.