• Pamela Brusa

Costa Rica'sVice President Epsy Campbell Barr...


In 2018, Costa Rica’s Epsy Campbell Barr became the first Black woman in Latin America to be elected vice president — despite the fact that Afro-descendant women comprise up to 17% of the region’s population.


Her historic election alongside President Carlos Alvarado followed three unsuccessful presidential bids, one right after Costa Rica’s first female president, Laura Chinchilla, left office with an approval rating under 20%.


From an early age vice president Campbell understood that Afro-descendant women, indigenous women and rural women face additional difficulties to those that women in general already have, and that an extraordinary effort needed to be made to reduce the gaps, not only with the men but among women themselves.


“When a woman makes a mistake, it’s every woman’s mistake. It doesn’t work that way with men.”


Campbell, 57, began her career as a human rights and environmental activist and an economist researching women’s inclusion. As vice president, she has led a working group to try to close the gender pay gap, and also launched a program offering credit to rural women working in conservation. The granddaughter of Jamaican immigrants to Costa Rica, Campbell has also led several organizations, including the Network of Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Women, which she co-founded in 1992 to highlight the unique struggles of Black women.


Campbell entered politics in 2002, and after nearly two decades and two congressional terms, she still faces the difficult standards women in politics are held to.

Now with vice president-elect, Kamala Harris, we have to agree women of color have come a long way. As a feminist I have learned that one can’t talk about sexism without talking about racism.


Everything down to what a women leader wears is a topic of debate.


Campbell says she’s committed to connecting the struggles for racial justice and gender equality, pointing to what she sees as a “deep transformation” emerging globally in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in the United States, and the election of a black woman for vice president.


I reckon that not just Afro descendants are demanding racial justice as women, we need more men committed to the fight for women, by understanding that a new social pact includes them too.

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