This week’s guest at the Atlantic Talks is Mónica Ferro, a Doctorate in International Relations and Professor at ISCSP, University of Lisbon, until she left Portugal in 2017 to direct the Geneva Office of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Mónica Ferro has been the Director in Geneva of the UN population support fund since leaving the Portuguese Parliament, where she was a member of the PSD party and where she became Vice-President of the PSD Parliamentary Group and Coordinator of the Portuguese Parliamentary Group on Population and Development.

In the new episode of the Atlantic Talks, the head of the UN talks to journalist Filipe Santos Costa about the current civic movements for the defense of Human Rights – such as the Black Lives Matter and the Me Too movement –, based in the United States, and how these struggles have echoed in other parts of the World from there.

Even if the causes of these inequalities are not new and/or exclusively American, Mónica Ferro highlights the importance of the United States for the spread of these social movements, due to its central position as leader of liberal democracies and firm defenders of the human rights agenda.

“The extremely associative nature of the United States, the volunteer work that is something so deeply rooted in American culture, is a reality far removed from the European reality. (…) It is something that causes these often inorganic movements, which arise spontaneously, to pass the emergency phase. We have many movements that do not pass this initial phase of awareness.” – Monica Ferro.

As a rule, civic movements are marks that come to us from the United States. Even if they present themselves as the locomotive of liberal democracies, there is still a part of the American population that fights against discrimination currently, whether on the basis of skin color, sexual orientation, gender, or other divisive factors.

“All the movements in favor of sexual rights, the LGBT movements, which are also an important part of our work, the movements in favor of reproductive justice, among others, these movements now led by African-American, Latin-American, Asian-American women, were born in the United States.” – Monica Ferro.

The director of UNFPA explains the global proportion of these new social movements because they relate to causes of injustice that touch us all. Causes that, although they do not directly affect all members of society, there is an awareness that this social harm should not exist, as were the cases of racism and police violence of George Floyd, Breona Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery in the United States.

“These movements arise as a response to a social harm that is identified, with which we identify ourselves, (…) but also in many of these movements there is no identification with them, but an awareness that there is a social evil, and that we together have the power to change it.” – Monica Ferro.

On human rights and the fracturing issues around migration, Mónica Ferro recalls that this population group contributes greatly to Western societies, and far beyond them, in both financial and demographic terms.

“In Portugal, it has always been the case, and in most European countries it will be the case too, immigrants are net contributors to social security, that is, they give more to social security than what they take away from social security, and have been an important force in Portugal and other countries, for example, to control the decrease in birth that many European countries are suffering.” – Mónica Ferro.

Don’t miss the new episode of Atlantic Talks, now available where you usually listen to your podcasts. You can also find this episode in the links below.