MIRE, Foreign Minister Mouynes at the CELAC summit

Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes. Photo by the Ministry of Foreign Relations (MIRE).

Erika Mouynes advocates more women decision-makers at the CELAC summit

by the Ministsry of Foreign Relations – Mexico, September 18, 2021

As one of the only two women with government representation at the VI Summit of Heads of Government and State of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the minister of foreign affairs of Panama today pointed out to the audience the importance to resume progress to achieve fair gender equity, with equal pay and access to economic and educational empowerment for women in the region.

“There are more women at this table,” she emphasized during her speech, after noting that only the Foreign Minister of Jamaica, Kamina Johnston, and the executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcenas, accompanied her in the plenary debate.

“All of our speeches support the political empowerment of women. Very well. Where are those women? Excellencies, we are just three women sitting at this table. More women are missing here. And there are. And they are prepared. Let’s make sure together to create spaces so that real and effective opportunities are given to the women of our peoples,” urged the head of Panamanian diplomacy, who attended the meeting on behalf of President Laurentino Cortizo Cohen.

In her proposal, she also indicated the need to strengthen spaces for dialogue such as CELAC to address the common problems that the current pandemic has placed on the agenda of all the countries convened. Among these she mentioned the effects of climate change in the region — “the new world crisis” — and growing irregular migration.

On the latter point, she highlighted the serious impact that this social phenomenon is having on the countries from whence people embark on this difficult route. “Excellencies, we can only address this phenomenon regionally. With just co-responsibility and among all. United.” She assured that Panama does its part and is the first country to provide temporary shelter, food and free medical assistance to migrants who cross its border after a long and complicated journey.

Foreign Minister Mouynes added that, as a carbon negative country – one of only three in the world – Panama has shown that it can achieve goals and fulfill commitments, such as protecting 30 percent of marine areas before the year 2030.

“With this degree of protection, 30 percent of our oceans, we favor the creation of an underwater corridor [in the American tropical Pacific] for biodiversity as a significant contribution to mitigate the effects of climate change. This positive impact can grow exponentially if it is acted upon regionally; so we support Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica to join forces and to give an example of the extraordinary scope and contribution to the world that we can achieve when we unite and align objectives,” the Panamanian representative declared.

The region, Minister Mouynes added, has not done well in this pandemic. “The virus hit us hard and claimed many lives. Let’s focus on our strengths to overcome our weaknesses. Another crisis like this cannot find us divided. Solidarity must be at the top of our common agenda,” she concluded.

The CELAC summit, held this Saturday in Mexico, concluded with the definitive constitution of the Latin American and Caribbean Space Agency, the adoption of a Health Self-Sufficiency Plan – the first of its kind in the region – and the creation of the Fund against Disasters and Effects of Climate Change in Latin America and the Caribbean, which during the hours of the summit, raised more than $15 million.


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