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Colombia Honors Feminism Pioneer Florence Thomas


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs awarded the National Order of Merit to the feminist, activist and leader, Florence Thomas (Middle). Credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Colombia

Florence Thomas, a French national and prominent feminist writer and activist, was recently honored with the ‘National Order of Merit (Orden Nacional al Mérito) by the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This recognition is part of Colombia’s Feminist Foreign Policy initiative and acknowledges Thomas’s significant contributions to women’s rights and the feminist movement in Colombia.

Florence Thomas: A Trailblazer in Colombia’s Feminist Movement

Florence Thomas has been a pivotal figure in Colombia’s feminist movement for over five decades. Her work has opened up spaces for debate and dialogue on critical issues such as voluntary pregnancy termination, the full guarantee of women’s sexual and reproductive rights, and the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community. Thomas’s efforts have been instrumental in shaping discussions around gender and feminism in Colombia since the 1970s, a time when these topics were largely ignored by society. Her role in bringing together women from various backgrounds, including teachers, activists, and leaders, to reflect on feminism and women’s rights in Colombia has been particularly noteworthy.

Colombia’s Commitment to Feminism and Women’s Rights

The Colombian government, represented by Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva, emphasized the historic nature of this award. It marks the first time that the country’s Orders of Merit have recognized the feminist struggle and highlighted the role of women in building a more equitable and equal society. Leyva assured continued efforts to recognize and eradicate violence against women, reflecting a broader commitment to human rights and gender equality within Colombia’s foreign relations sector.

Pioneering Women in Colombia’s Feminist Movement

This award to Florence Thomas follows a similar honor bestowed upon Mara Viveros Vigoya, a feminist researcher and academic, and the current director of the School of Gender Studies at the National University of Colombia. On December 6, Vigoya was awarded the National Order of Merit (Orden Nacional al Mérito) for her contributions to advocating and guaranteeing women’s rights in their diversity.

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