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Monday, June 18, 2018

From model to Vice President: a woman making history in Colombia

Por Nina

It took 208 years and 114 presidencies for a woman to occupy the second most important position of the Colombian government. This Sunday Marta Lucía Ramírez made history as the first woman to be elected vice president and showed that she is made for big things and that it is her job to break glass ceilings: she was also the first and only woman to occupy the position of Minister of Defense, in the first period of government of Alvaro Uribe Velez. She is described as a woman with a great capacity for work, who is not interested in honors or labels, nor be ornament anywhere. Marta Lucia Ramirez says she will speak to the new president of the Republic, Ivan Duque. "If there are discrepancies, they have to be manifested, and they must be manifested with character and timely," she says.

She is the oldest of four brothers and the only daughter of Alvaro Ramirez and Alba Blanco. Her mother, who worked in an insurance company, had to ask for several loans in the employee fund to pay for her law degree in La Javeriana. At the age of 20 Marta Lucía had her first job: pose before a camera to be the model of a Clearasil commercial. Her appearance had an impact. Two months later they call her to be a Glemo shampoo model and later she would be Juno's model. It was going so well that she was the cover of Cromos and, with what she earned she was able to help her parents pay for her education. She graduated at 21 with the best grades. She did not listen to the offers where she was proposed to represent Bogota in the National Beauty Reign. No, she preferred her studies. She graduated as a lawyer from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and is a specialist in Commercial Law and in High Business Management and Financial Legislation of the University of Harvard (United States). Her public life began at the Banking Superintendence, a place where she had an outstanding career that led her in 1990 to be appointed director of Mincomex.

She then went on to direct ProExpo, office from which she made a leap to the Ministry of Foreign Trade, where she served as deputy minister when the current president of the Republic, Juan Manuel Santos, was the owner of that portfolio. Years later, in the government of Andres Pastrana, Ramirez became the head of this same ministry. Then, in 2002, the then president of the Republic, Alvaro Uribe Vélez, appointed her Minister of Defense, being the first woman in Colombia and the second in Latin America to hold that position. Its management in that portfolio was characterized by the centralization of the recruitments for the Military Forces, the creation of the first school of training in human rights, in addition to promoting women so that they could become general in the public force. In 2006 she was elected senator by the U Party, a legislative work that led her to be president of the Second Senate Commission. However, three years later she resigned that group considering that there were no guarantees for the 2010 presidential election and joined a dissidence that did not last long called “los Quintuples", also composed of Sergio Fajardo, Antanas Mockus, Enrique Peñalosa and "Lucho" Garzon.

Her retirement from "los Quintuples" took her back to the party of her entire life, the Conservative, where she was confronted in a consultation against Noemi Sanin to be the presidential candidate of the blue awnings in 2010. However, Sanín won and she stayed with the nomination. A fate that changed four years later, in 2014, when she managed to aspire to the Presidency for this community and won the third largest vote in the elections with nearly two million votes, which allowed her to become a political reference of the right in the last years. With all this experience, which left her team an immense learning and her name in the minds of Colombians, Ramirez arrived at the current presidential campaign with her aspiration endorsed by the significant movement of citizens "For a Colombia, Honest and Strong”. After having wide differences with the precandidate Alejandro Ordoñez, agreed to participate on March 11 in an interparty consultation with the former attorney and Ivan Duque, which occupied the second place, a position that made her Duque's vice presidential formula.

Now, as the first female vice president, she seeks to lead a new feminine era, although many gender organizations view her with distrust for her conservative positions on human rights, especially on issues of abortion, equal marriage and adoption of same-sex couples. For Fabiola Calvo, a PhD in Political Science and Sociology and an expert on gender issues, the arrival of Marta Lucía Ramírez to the vice presidency implies a symbolic change in Colombian society, "because women would be demonstrating that there is capacity to assume one of the positions most important in the country. " For his part, Nicolás Liendo, vice-dean of the School of Political Science of Sergio Arboleda University, believes that the gender of the new vice president is important to "give modernity" to the government.

"The right has been the one that has most driven the inclusion of women," said the academic to El Colombiano. Calvo, however, does not believe that Ramirez represents all Colombian women. "One of the limitations that I would see in Marta Lucía is her family conception with respect to women's rights," explains the expert on gender issues and adds that the limitations of the new vice president have to do, above all, with the sexual and reproductive rights. Even so, Calvo sees Marta Lucia Ramirez as an intelligent woman with a spirit that will allow her to earn the respect of Colombians.