Women in Public Service Project: Institute for Women’s Leadership in Latin America

By Kara Odum '15 Staff Writer

Next month Scripps College will be co-hosting the Institute for Women’s Leadership in Latin America with Mount St. Mary’s College. Thirty women from 16 countries will come together for discussions, networking, and policy workgroups. The Institute will be focused on opening up discourse between women political leaders to discuss national issues with each other. President Lori Bettison-Varga commented, “We are looking forward to providing a space for these 30 amazing women to dialogue and learn from each other and for us to learn from them.”

The Institute will start on March 12 with opening ceremonies featuring a keynote address by Maria Echaveste and Josefina Vazquez Mota with a special video message from Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile and current Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of U.N. Women. Maria Echaveste is the former Deputy Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton as well as the co-founder of the Nueva Vista Group. Josefina Vazquez Mota was a presidential candidate of Mexico in 2012 and is the former Secretary of Education.

Throughout the Institute, expert panelists including Vicky Colbert, Erika Guevara Rosas, Pamela Yates, and Cecilia Lopez will facilitate discussions and lead networking activities with the goal of promoting the Women in the Public Service Project’s objective of having 50% female political representatives by 2050. All of these women have taken on the challenge of engaging and inspiring more women to be activists, political leaders, and public servants.

Vicky Colbert has reached more than five million children in Latin America through the nonprofit organization she founded, Escuela Nueva Foundation, which hopes to improve access to quality education in low-income schools.

Erika Guevara Rosas is currently the program director for Latin American and the Caribbean Global Fund for Women. She has worked tirelessly to develop involvement in human rights activities by working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, mainly in war-torn areas.

Pamela Yates has used film and digital media tools to raise awareness of human rights. She is a co-founder of Skylight Pictures and has produced four films that have been nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Cecilia Lopez is an economist and former Senator, Colombian politician, and former cabinet member. Her work has helped resolve several pressing issues involving HumanRights violations, management of the financial crisis, and measurement of the impact on Colombia from the Free Trade Agreements between the U.S. and the European Union. These inspiring women and many others will come together to help each other work out resolutions for today’s difficult problems.

To make this Institute possible, Scripps College, Mount St. Mary’s College, and Mills College have come together to plan and facilitate this event. Five students from each college, led by Professor Lia Roberts of Mount St. Mary’s College, were selected to take part in a guided study this semester and to participate in some of the discussions. Karen Fagan, the Director of the Latin American Institute at Scripps, and many student volunteers have been working to make this Institute a meaningful step in promoting women in leadership positions.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact Sarah Owens, the Volunteer Coordinator, via email at sowens5962@scrippscollege.edu. More information on the WPSP can be found online at womeninpublicservice.org.