From November 13 to 17, 2023, Madrid played host to the 9th edition of the “Women Leaders Ibero-American Program,” led by the Carolina Foundation. Sixteen women from various Ibero-American countries, excelling in diverse fields, gathered to advance gender equality.
The program’s mission
The initiative, spearheaded by the Carolina Foundation, aims to foster stronger connections among women leaders, feminist organizations, and institutions committed to gender equality in Latin America and Spain. It seeks to promote networking among women and feminist organizations in politics, academia, business, science and technology, civil society, media, social and labor movements, and culture.
Participants and perspectives
Designed for women from Latin America and Spain, and showcasing either emerging or established leadership, the program represents diverse political parties and organizations dedicated to the fight for gender equality. Among the participants was Luz Vidal Huiriqueo, Chile’s Subsecretary of Women and Gender Equity, who celebrated the discussed proposals on her social media platform “X.”
The program’s five focus areas
The program addressed five essential thematic areas considered integral components of the social, political, and expert knowledge generation agendas of Ibero-American governments:
1. Policies to Combat Physical and Sexual Violence: Emphasizing the importance of evaluating the results and impacts of governmental actions and social initiatives aimed at eliminating sexual and physical violence. The goal is to calibrate their effectiveness, readjust, change, or complement them until these forms of violence disappear.
2. Care as the Core of the New Social Pact: Focusing on the recognition of the interdependence and value of care in aggregate terms (its contribution to GDP and individual and social well-being). The objective is to promote an equitable distribution of care tasks both in domestic and public spheres.
3. Economic Autonomy and Employment for Women Post-Pandemic: Addressing the inclusion of women in the labor market, analyzing public efforts to ensure equity in access, treatment, and wages in different professional fields. Special emphasis is placed on initiatives supporting entrepreneurship and the social economy.
4. Identifying and Resisting Threats to Rights: Emphasizing the importance of identifying actors, narratives, and strategies of new right-wing and neoconservative movements challenging women’s human rights. It underscores the need for gender-sensitive data collection and multi-scale, multi-actor alliances for resistance and social transformation.
5. Toward an Ecofeminist Future: Focused on imagining, defining, and actively designing utopias. This includes developing new imaginaries and positive visions linking gender equality with pressing challenges such as planetary eco-sustainability.
Voices from the program
Jose Antonio Sanahuja, director of the Carolina Foundation, highlighted the current moment of questioning agendas for the recognition and expansion of womens rights and gender equality by growing extreme right-wing forces. He emphasized the Foundation’s commitment to feminist foreign policy and cooperation.
In her welcoming address, Ángeles Moreno Bau, Spain’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Global Affairs, stressed the effective participation of women in decision-making processes. She underscored that effective participation promotes justice, equality, and contributes to the economic, social, and political progress of societies.
As the program unfolded, it became a forum for building a narrative that gender equality is not solely a demand of women but a shared advancement for both men and women, benefiting society as a whole. The discussions reflected a collective commitment to defending and revitalizing democracy, acknowledging and countering challenges posed by emerging right-wing forces. The program exemplifies a cooperative effort to advance a feminist foreign policy and create positive societal narratives for gender equality.