The United Nations General Assembly has a new President: Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces. Every year, the U.N. votes to choose a new ramrod for its General Assembly. Potential candidates for the position are chosen, partially, based on a regional rotation. This time around, the U.N. was looking for someone from Latin America or the Caribbean. As such, Espinosa Garces stepped up to the plate and whacked it right out of the park: of the 192 nations voting on the matter, 128 gave the thumbs up to her taking the position.
As Yahoo News points out, the position of President in the General Assembly is largely ceremonial, especially given that a large percentage of what the General Assembly does is create non-binding resolutions. But still, a win is a win, and the newly-minted President Espinosa Garces is definitely a winner.
In her home nation of Ecuador, Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces is a frigging HUGE political noise. She worked as the nation’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Integration from January 2007 to December 2007, before moving on to a new position as Special Adviser to the President of the Constituent Assembly, Alberto Acosta, from December 2007 to February 2008, before moving on, in October 2009, to become Ecuador’s Coordinating Minister of Heritage – a post she held until 2012. In November of that same year, Espinosa Garces was called upon to become the country’s Minister of National Defense. In October 2014, she was named Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations in Geneva. That’s an impressive resume, by any standard. What’s more, as part of her responsibility as Ecuador’s Permanent Representative she defended Ecuador’s stance on Julian Assange during a discussion by the General Assembly on what to do with the weasel, back in 2016 – so we partially have her to thank for the fact that he’s remained beyond the reach of the authorities, who’d love to have a long, protracted chat with him for oh-so-many reasons.
If you’ve bothered to read this far into what’s admittedly a pretty dry post on international politics, you’re likely wondering why I give a shit about Espinosa Garces, or why you should, for that matter. So, here it is: In the U.N. General Assembly’s 73 year history, she’s only the fourth woman to have taken the Assembly’s helm.
That is a terrible track record, looked at through the eyes of gender equality, especially for an organization that purports to represent the world’s people – not just men, but its women, too. Hopefully, Espinosa Garces' turn as President will be the first in a long line of women who’ll hold the position.
Image via Flickr, courtesy of Cancillería del Ecuador