How did your interest in working with the United Nations Population Fund come about?
During my time in parliament I had something that was a constant: my attachment to the parliamentary group on population and development. It was a group of MPs from all parties and we worked in the area of equality, sexual and reproductive health and education for citizenship. This group worked with the United Nations Population Fund, and so I observed and participated in dozens of initiatives and I realised that their work was a catalyst for change in the lives of women and girls.
Was this how you became aware that a vacancy had
I knew my predecessor, Alanna Armitage, very well. She had come to Portugal several times and I, as an MP, had been to Geneva to discuss and present some of the issues that were at the heart of the Fund. When she left, the organisation advertised the position to outside candidates and I thought «why not?». I might not get it, but at least I tried. It all started on October 24, 2016 and I received the letter with the offer of the post in January 2017.
«Any international organisation should work towards its own extinction»
Did you apply as an individual or was there any political backing?
I applied as an individual, but I was supported by the government at the time and it is always better to have support rather than opposition, because in my place, although ill defined, I am Portugal’s representative in the United Nations Population Fund in Geneva. Then the government changed and I felt the same support.
Do you think it is a place with no political persuasion?
Yes. It has no political persuasion. I serve the United Nations and, because I have worked for a particular party and I have been an MP and secretary of state, for that party, because I have been endorsed by one government and supported by another, this shows that my political experience has not been one of towing a single party line. I have always worked with all parties and, irrespective of politics, I have served the country and the causes in which I believe. There have been people who have thought I was independent and that was funny because it has to do with the stereotype given to a centre-right woman.