Maria Laura da Rocha becomes Itamaraty’s 1st woman general secretary and promises to act for diversity


The diplomat Maria Laura da Rocha took over the post of Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this Wednesday (4th) afternoon. She thus becomes the first woman in history to hold the position — the second most important in the hierarchy of Brazilian diplomacy.

The handover ceremony took place at the Itamaraty Palace, in Brasília. In her speech, Maria Laura da Rocha said that she will spare no efforts in her position to show that everyone wins by valuing women. She also said that she will work to increase diversity at Itamaraty.

“I will spare no efforts to show what the house gains in its last dimensions by valuing women. We will all gain from this engagement”, he said.

“We are going to make sure that Itamaraty is a committed actor to increase the number of women, black men and women, Indians recruited for our careers”, he added.

The handover ceremony was also marked by a movement of female diplomats, who wore lilac clothes to celebrate the fact that Maria Laura was the first female general secretary. The color is associated with the suffragist movement and feminism.

During the work of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s (PT) transition cabinet, it was even considered that a woman would be appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, a feat that would be unprecedented. In the end, Lula opted for Mauro Vieira, who had already been chancellor in Dilma Rousseff’s government, which ended up frustrating many women.

In an interview with Sheetafter being chosen for the position, Maria Laura said she wanted to see more women at the top of their careers.

“We want to continue this path, to have many professionals at the top of their careers, more women in positions of command. There will come a time when we will have a Minister of Foreign Affairs. It is inevitable.”

Maria Laura da Rocha is a career diplomat, joining the Rio Branco Institute in the 1970s. Her last position abroad was as ambassador of Brazil in Bucharest, Romania. She was also an ambassador for the Brazilian mission to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) and for the Brazilian mission to UNESCO.

She was also chief of staff for the then Chancellor Celso Amorim, during the first governments of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

During the ceremony, Chancellor Mauro Vieira praised Maria Laura, stating that she is an “exemplary” diplomat, “experienced” and with “refined political skills”. He also highlighted the struggle of women and minorities to exercise the diplomatic career throughout history and the proposals of the current government to correct injustices.

“Diversity cannot be understood only in an instrumental way. On the one hand, it is undeniable that a diverse and inclusive staff enhances the excellence of diplomatic work […] On the other hand, it is obvious that the greater presence of black colleagues, women, indigenous people, LGBTQI+ people, people with disabilities, and people from different regions of Brazil, constitutes the massive foundation on which democracy itself rests,” he said. Scallop.

Vieira stated that “authoritarian practices that stained the country’s history” impacted the evolution of women’s careers. She cited the date of 1938, when women were barred from entering the foreign service. And then he criticized the persecution of diplomats for being homosexual.

“It is equally fair to honor the memory of colleagues who were purged from their careers because of their sexual orientation and for ideological reasons, at different times in our history”, he stated.

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