"Active and leading Contributions from the perspective of women for Sustainable Development and the construction of peace and comprehensive happiness. Case studies of success and its global reach. " - Senator Iris Martinez
Thank you very much.
I would first like to thank Gabriela Lara who invited me.
I am always happy to return to CUMIPAZ because I learned a lot last year that I was in Chile and I am here now in the great Country of Paraguay;
It is a great honor to return to the Peace Integration Summit, now in this nation of Paraguay;
CUMIPAZ is a high caliber event that sums the efforts of hundreds of experts in diverse disciplines who search for peace and the happiness in the heart of the family and for respect of Mother Earth.
I am happy to hear the ideas and efforts that governments and societies are implementing to reach the objective outlined in this great summit.
I am proud to bear witness of the evolution of CUMIPAZ where we speak on great objectives to also share public policy that land those tangible desires and realities that benefit millions of people.
I have the honor of representing District 20, located in the heart of the City of Chicago in the United States. My city is a progressive fortress where the rights of minorities and the sustainable development and the care of the environment are part of the driving duties of my job.
Minority ethnic groups like Latinos, African Americans, Asian, etc, represent the majority of people in Chicago. Of almost 2 million inhabitants in my city, 52% are women. As the first elected Latina to the State Senate in the history of Illinois, I represent all inhabitants in my district, but I have a particular duty as a woman and as Latina, to represent the community where I come from.
Each summer I am invited to give speeches in high school graduations, before young people whose next academic step is to attend a university. I am always fascinated to interact with them and who are the future of Illinois and the United States. I am happy to see their faces full of light and hope for the future like the one CUMIPAZ searches for. Among many of the students that listen to my speech, I am sure there is a future Illinois State Senator and more. In the time of Hillary Clinton, maybe there is already a first Latina female President of my country. I dream of bearing witness to this, I work with all types of public, political, and social actors to make this wish a reality.
Now, to enter in my topic, as part of my duties, I have supported legislation that facilitates the civic union, especially within minorities like Latinos. This year, we approved in the State Senate of Illinois, an initiative that automatically updates the voter registry of all people when they solicit a driver's license or an identification issued by the State of Illinois. This bill seeks to break with the notion of impeding those that have shied away from civic life from being registered in the electoral lists automatically interact with the government; if these communities do not participate in democracy, we ask that the bad governors ignore their own needs. Unfortunately, this initiative was vetoed by the Governor of Illinois, who is not in my party, but I am sure that in the next legislative session programmed for November we will surpass that veto and we will be able to convert this measure into law. The word ‘democracy’ always has a last name that should be ‘participation’ so that it is effective and inclusive. How can our constituents seek their wellbeing through laws and public policy if their voices are silenced? How do they propose to see the dream of increasing the number of women in leadership roles if we continue to allow them to be excluded from the process? First things first, we must open the roads so that our communities have a voice and a vote in public debate; that is my primary commitment and I will continue to fight so that women can have a better parity within the demographics of the State and that they represent the leadership positions that they deserve; once our citizens are aware of their civic duties, and that we have offered the tools to organize in favor of the common good, we will be better equipped to work towards specific objectives. For example, through legislation that was approved unanimously in the Senate of Illinois, we facilitated the procedures needed to create community coops dedicated to selling food at the best price possible; this way we allow that the communities organize directly with produce sellers to offer their products to the hundreds presiding that lack food; a nutritious, healthy and balanced diet should be at reach of all human beings, and primarily of all children; cooperatives that sell food strengthen a local option for the communities they serve; with this law, we expect the number of cooperatives to increase in Illinois so they represent an option that offers high quality products at a reasonable price, and at the same time, increases the current existing markets, from the entities that begin with elements given to our people and to provide those healthy food options at low cost are necessary, just like it is necessary to take care of the environment; human beings share the gift of resistance that our mother earth offers in other species; nonetheless, we are responsible for the destruction of the environment by the emission of carbon dioxide or for the deforestation of our forests.
The monarch butterfly is a natural wonder due to its great beauty and because it is an insect that carries out one of the farthest migrations in the world; it travels three thousand kilometers from the south of Canada to Mexico City; humans have destroyed their habitat and the milkweed indiscriminately; it is what we call milkweed; it is the only place where the monarch deposits its eggs, which is no accident that it is disappearing; in only the last twenty years, the monarch butterfly population has reduced to 90%; to counteract this problem, I joined a group of legislators and we approved a law to create a special fund where people can voluntarily donate 10 dollars to plant more of these different plants; these plants will be planted in areas close to the interstate and state highways that are difficult for humans to get to, but these are perfect for the monarchs to deposit their own eggs and breed the second generation of butterflies; the program just took off and we wait for the beauty and the tenacity of the monarch butterfly, as well as its annual migration along North America, will be with us for many years to come;
In Illinois, we work towards the care of the environment, but the federal government policies also have modernized our economy on the basis of the rational use of technology to improve the lives of my colleagues and the rest of the world; President Barack Obama’s administration granted a fiscal stimulus that can pay up to 30 percent of the installation cost and the purchase of solar panels for residential and commercial use. The President, who was my dear colleague in the Illinois Senate, accomplished a growth of solar panel installations of 1600 % in this last decade; the sun provides clean and free energy, free of contaminating emissions, which is why it is important and an excellent option of sustainable energy; the new technologies that are responsible for the environment are, at the same time, opportunity camps to generate new employment that requires training and offers good income; in fact, it is estimated that at the end of the year, 240 thousand people will be working in the solar energy sector; this number is greater than the total number of employees that work in the petroleum industry and in the extraction of gas in the United States, this from the report on the advancement that we have reached in my country up to now; and if the presidential candidate of my party, Hillary Clinton, reaches the White House, I am sure that it will be an even more ambitious initiative to increase the adoption of solar energy;
on another note, a great part of the emission of greenhouse gases are caused by vehicles used to transport us, which is why President Obama established new rules so that today’s and future vehicles use less fuel; the new guidelines that will go in effect in the next years will force all autos provide a minimum of 23 kilometers per liter of gasoline; it is an increase of almost half the efficiency of gas motor connections to their performance a few years ago; given that our market is the largest, and of the auto industry in the world, car manufacturers have felt obligated to improve their auto design, and those technology advancements reach countries, such as Paraguay, and those other nations present here, when these autos are sold around the world; inspiring and obligating to drastically reduce their emission thanks to President Obama’s leadership; can you imagine the amount of gas that will no longer contaminate our environment thanks to these public policies; not only that, we also think about the great savings drivers will have around the world.
Only in the United States, it is estimated that the new fuel performance standards will save people 1.7 billion dollars and that our use of petroleum will be reduced to 12 percent; these great examples are some things we are doing in the United States, and how good public policies can make a difference in our quality of life, they can safeguard and preserve our environment, and support innovation in technology that generates employment with awareness and respect for Mother Earth; formulating and implementing sensible policies is a great investment for human beings; not only should we preserve other species and the beauty... we can establish the conditions for a sustainable future .
In this year so far, the summit in Santiago de Chile until today, where we unite here in Asuncion Paraguay, I have supported different initiatives that also prevent the contamination of bodies of water, laws that establish how to treat dangerous waste, and even the creation of work groups that evaluate the solar panel installation in government owned buildings in Illinois; I am sure that with the exchange of ideas that we collaborate here, we will reach a world with a development that is cleaner and more sustainable, and will provide a voice to our people so they can express their needs and wants; it will be a future in which human beings will be happier and healthier.
I want to thank you again and I hope that the information I have shared with you are some of the things we are doing in government in Illinois in the united states; an initiative that President Obama has done to contribute on what we have to talk about to take care of the environment; and for me as a woman, these themes are important topics that are really important to me and I must continue fighting to ensure that Mother Earth is respected, and more importantly, that we continue to develop the best for a better future for our children.
Thank you very much.