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3L Margarita Varela-Rosa trains women in Puerto Rico to run for office

Saturday, January 11, 2020  
Posted by: UDC Law Staff
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Margarita Varela-Rosa

In 2018 and 2019, Margarita Varela-Rosa, 3L, served as President of Proyecto 85, the first nonpartisan, nonprofit organization in Puerto Rico that trains women to run for elective public office. Since its inception in 2018, Proyecto 85 has trained more than 330 women interested in running in the 2020 election.

Although women represent 53 percent of the local population, they occupy only 14 percent of public office positions. According to Varela-Rosa, “Statistics show that women in Puerto Rico have the power to influence political decisions, and Proyecto 85 encourages women in the island to exert that power from public office.” Proyecto 85’s trainings explore the challenges faced by female candidates, the process for filing a candidacy in Puerto Rico and best practices for fundraising. The organization partnered with Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University and the Puerto Rico State Election Commission to develop its training program.

“Proyecto 85 started as a group of five volunteers working together because we were legitimately concerned with the lack of gender parity in Puerto Rico’s political arena,” said Varela-Rosa. In addition to leading efforts to incorporate the organization, obtain tax-exempt status and establish strategic partnerships, Varela-Rosa secured an Open Society Foundation grant to fund the first two years of operation of the organization and hire staff. Varela-Rosa said Proyecto 85 will expand its programming in 2020, offering “specialized trainings focused on how to effectively develop a political platform, recruit volunteers and manage communications.” She added, “There are still many opportunities for the organization to grow and support women in politics in Puerto Rico, but we are proud of our accomplishments so far.”

Varela-Rosa is a full-time policy advisor in the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. She is also an inaugural recipient of the Eleanor Holmes Norton Legacy Fund Scholarship.

Students in classroom
Margarita Varela-Rosa, center, presents at Proyecto 85’s training “Corramos Nosotras”
 
Participants gathered for group photo
Participants of Proyecto 85’s training “De Aspirante a Candidata”

 


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