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Rosalia Arteaga

From President of Ecuador to environmental and education activist, Rosalia Arteaga’s career is a testimony to the power individuals can wield if they dedicate their lives to a good cause.

For the better part of two decades, Rosalia Arteaga has been a leader in the field of education and culture reform in her home country of Ecuador. Fueled by a personal vision that places the dissemination of knowledge at the tip of the pyramid, she has fought both in and outside the political sphere in order to bring her ideals to fruition

 

Politician and Social Activist

Rosalia Arteaga’s political career started in 1992, when she was appointed deputy minister for education, culture and sport before being awarded the position of Minister of Culture and Education two years later. She achieved prominence when she resigned her post under the premiership of Sixto Duran Ballen because he wished to mandate religious education in public schools. This move earned her great respect and propelled her to become Ecuador’s first female Vice President and the first woman to win executive power at national level. Following the constitutional crisis of 1997, she held the Presidential position for 2 days, before Congress decided to change the presidential succession law, forcing her resignation. Towards the end of the 1990s she withdrew from politics and decided to continue her fight without being involved in the nitty-gritty world associated with holding public office.

“I started in politics because I wanted to make changes in the educational and cultural fields. My main motivation was and still is making radical changes in these areas”, Ms. Arteaga admits in an interview. In order to pursue this goal, she became the President of the Latin American Foundation for Integration and Development (FIDAL), an Ecuadorian NGO that works towards enhancing environmental awareness, improving the national education system and the rule of law.

Ms. Arteaga’s belief is that a major cause of poverty is the unequal distribution of knowledge in the world. Central to this idea is having well-trained teachers, essential in safeguarding the right to universal education. With FIDAL she has tried to provide the right framework to do exactly that. Under her guidance, the Foundation fleshed out a targeted approach called “teach the teachers” that, each year, grants the international Educational Excellence award to distinguished individuals. It seeks to increase the visibility of success stories in education and to reward innovative teaching methods.

 

Environmental activist

Mindful of the major challenges faced by Latin America, Ms. Arteaga has taken a strong stance in the fight to prevent the deforestation of the Amazon, the largest remaining tropical forest in the world. She was at the helm of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO), a Brazilian-based intergovernmental organization that seeks to preserve and develop the Amazon in a sustainable way.  Its mission is to increase the global negotiation capacity of its eight member countries and increase regional cooperation. She played a major role in streamlining the efforts made to preserve the region, making policy recommendations and working with governments at all levels.

The Amazon can also serve as an ideal habitat for regional integration. Following the lines hashed out by the Andean Community or Mercosur, Ms. Arteaga has tried to use ACTO as a catalyst to find a common ground between its member countries on other issues that need collective solutions. “We are all on the same planet and we need to work together. Our world in intertwined” is how she explains her perspective on the best method to tackle the main issues posed by the fight against global warming.

With a BA in political science, followed by degrees in law, journalism and anthropology, Rosalia Arteaga has written several books and has regularly published articles and columns in journals and newspapers. She also holds the honor of being the only South American ever to be appointed on the editorial board of the prestigious Encyclopedia Britannica. All these achievements have made her a powerful regional voice on topics of education and environmental protection, efforts that have been recognized by the numerous decorations and awards she has received.

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