Here’s What You Need to Know About Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, the First Latina to Lead the UN General Assembly

María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés BeLatina
Photo Credit UN Photo/Manuel Elias

Back in Ecuador, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés began her diplomatic and political career as a university professor. Her educational background, comprised of degrees in applied linguistics, anthropology, and political science, earned her grants and awards from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations and the Society of Woman Geographers amongst others. Espinosa Garcés has published over 30 articles, ranging from topics like culture and heritage to intellectual property, defense, biodiversity, ancestral knowledge, and foreign policy. The solid base on which Espinosa Garcés has built her political career, always linking the fate of the land to the plight of its people, has made her one of the biggest champions for women, Andean culture, and the environmental preservation of the Amazon.

Having served as Minister of Cultural Heritage, of Foreign Affairs, and of Defense for Ecuador, gave Espinosa Garcés the opportunity to hone her skills as a champion for the environment and the Andean region, resulting in the kind of policy that would benefit developing countries all around the world. As the first woman representative from Ecuador to serve in the United Nations and only the fourth female president of the General Assembly (and the first since 2006), she is primed to continue her fight for gender equality, both by affecting policy that supports women around the world and by serving as a role model.

In her recent capacity as chair of the Group of 77 and China and chair of the Andean region, Espinosa Garcés has been able to extrapolate from her profound knowledge of Ecuador to arrive at resolutions to benefit many other places around the world. She is an expert in translating her cultural and anthropological knowledge of people into the type of policy that will best preserve their way of life, civil rights, and the environment. A clear example of Espinosa Garcés’ commitment to these types of resolutions is the one she promoted in January of 2018, entitled “Indigenous women: key actors in poverty and hunger eradication.”

As one of the biggest proponents of sustainability during the sixteenth and seventeenth Conferences of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Espinosa Garcés had opportunity to funnel in her expertise derived in Geneva, during conferences on sustainability, and in Paris, during conferences on climate change.

Now as the first Latin American female president of United Nations General Assembly’s 73rd session, Espinosa Garcés has a unique and far-reaching podium. Like the other three women who presided over the General Assembly before her, Espinosa Garcés brings a whole range of special qualifications to the post, as well as a commitment to championing women alongside all other causes. With her knowledge of human rights and policy from the very theoretical to the practical and applicable, she is just the woman to take the preservation of civil rights and the environment into the future.