Costa Rica’s ground-breaking Vice President says women and men must work together to achieve change

DUBAI, 19 January 2022 — Her Excellency Epsy Campbell Barr, Vice President of the Republic of Costa Rica, has been outlining the role men should play in helping women to achieve gender equality and empowerment during Global Goals Week at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The Vice President is the first Afro-Costa Rican to be elected into this role in office, and underscored her priorities to advance women in her country and around the world.

Welcome to Expo 2020 Dubai — what are your impressions of Expo 2020 Dubai so far?

“It is amazing. In Expo 2020 Dubai, we can learn about the experiences of countries, the innovation, the perspectives. We can see issues such as development, and regional perspectives regarding the challenges of the future being made central to the agenda. This is one of the most important experiences we can have during the pandemic — to understand what we must do in the future.”

As a result of the pandemic, the amount of time it has been predicted that it will take to close the gender gap has increased by roughly 36 years. How can we get back on track?

“There are lots of women out there that are creative, that have technical skills, and that have engaged with power differently. The gap in equal opportunity for women also means that there are opportunities out there for women. This is the issue that the Women’s Pavilion has brought to the heart of Expo 2020 Dubai: on a country level, but also on a global level, we need to look at the importance of women in society. This is not only an issue for women but for the world, because if we don’t involve women in creating solutions to our current problems, we are missing out. Otherwise we cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in the poorest countries.”

The Women’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai celebrates female change-makers, as well as men who have championed women’s issues. What role should men play in driving progress on gender equality?

“I think men are half of the solution, because they are half of the problem. We need more men involved in domestic issues and social issues. We also need to work together to change things and to change the perspectives of leaders. Male leaders have to understand that we are not fighting against men. We are fighting an injustice in the world. We’re fighting for the rights of women that don’t have any rights. But if we deal with the problems together, we can solve them more easily.”

In Costa Rica, the government signed a national pact for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2016. What action is your country taking to help achieve these goals?

“Each year, we report on what we are doing to achieve the SDGs, and we have made the SDGs part of our national development plan. We are working faster to achieve these goals by 2030. We have made the SDGs a mainstream part of all of our policy programmes in our country.”

What is your SDG pledge?

“I lead a programme of female empowerment in my country to involve women in an informal economy, and to reduce the gaps in terms of salaries and opportunity for women. I also lead a programme for people of African descent in Costa Rica and beyond. I was recently elected as a part of the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent at the UN.”

What are your top priorities now?

“My priorities are women, young people, people of African descent and local development in my country. Costa Rica is leading an international agenda in terms of climate change and the environment. We have achieved a lot in our country. We use almost 94 per cent clean energy for electricity, and more than 25 per cent of our country is made up of different forms of conservation, such as national parks.”

Maureen Drackett-Fuller and Delroy Constantine-Simms



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