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September 28, 2022 6:00 AM EDT

Protecting the environment and the communities that depend on it. Working with and for the most vulnerable. Fighting for real equality. This is what Colombian Vice President Francia Márquez Mina stands for.

In her own words, she is not an ornament or a political symbol. Francia is a woman of action and a leader who aspires to drive positive change. She knows, ­literally, how to walk the talk, as this winner of the 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize did in her fight against illegal gold mining.

The Afro-American, Indigenous, and rural communities in Colombia have in her a champion—as do those across Latin America and the Caribbean. And with her powerful example, Francia is already making her mark on all the little boys and girls in the western hemisphere who are saying, “I want to be like Francia when I grow up.”

Alvarado is a former President of Costa Rica and a professor of practice at The Fletcher School at Tufts University

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