“Women are the pillar of socio-economic development”

‘International Futures’ is a program with young aspirants from across the globe and we start a series of interviews with some of the participants. The first is Ana Martínez Mendoza from Mexico. Ana’s passionate involvement with migration and socio-economic development, sustainable energy and women empowerment makes her a true global leader!

Your line of research involved migration and border. What were your findings?

Border security and migration issues will continue to be part of the political dialogue around the world in the upcoming years, especially if governments fail to promote policies that seek to include and integrate immigrants. In Mexico, immigration has been an important part of the bilateral relationship with the United States, and our shared border has deep commercial, cultural and family links. According to information from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics of the United States and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 1 million people and around $1.7 billion in trade cross through the ports of entry each day between the U.S.-Mexico border. Hence, societies from both sides have learned through the years how to cooperate and take advantage of this interdependence. Borders tend to have active and dynamic relations, and with aspects such as violence, economic crisis and climate change, immigration and asylum seekers will continue to be part of the conversation, and efforts around the world to establish policies that integrate them and respect their human rights and their heritage will be needed. Also, non-governmental and international organizations will continue to have a very important role in creating awareness, especially as some actors criticize migrants and misinform society by creating a crisis with neighbours and allies. Adding to this, as a researcher I find that platforms that contribute to informing society with accurate facts are becoming an essential part of these discussions since it is widely relevant that citizens are well informed about the decisions that their authorities are making and also, as an effort to create societies that understand each other better and ultimately, accept each other.

In the past, you were involved with projects related to energy issues. Could you expound on the future of sustainable energy?

I was able to collaborate in a project related to the implementation of social responsibility practices in vulnerable communities by an important company of the energy sector. Within our findings, we confirmed that companies are key actors in promoting sustainable projects and products. With this in mind, rethinking how the offer and the demand of sustainable energy are taking place nowadays and how will it be developed during the upcoming years will be a process that must also take into account the social dimension of these transformations.  But, there is still a lot of resistance to change, not only from governments but also from consumers and companies. It is really important that we start envisioning and building the future we want, investing in reliable and affordable low carbon technologies, while at the same time keep promoting the relevance of sustainability. A lot of the work of accomplishing successful sustainable energy practices will have to rely on investments in long-term policies that will result in gradual transitions of energy efficiency.

You were part of international projects for socio-economic development in Haiti, Mexico, and the Philippines. How do women contribute to socioeconomic development in these countries?

I have always believed that women are the pillar of socio-economic development projects. It has been proven that in terms of financial inclusion and participation, when given a chance, the rate of return of projects involving women will tend to be higher, resulting in better outcomes for their communities. What I was able to see during these experiences, which were related to education and the environment, was the deep commitment that the women of these groups had to the development projects and that for most of them participating in these activities gave them a chance to achieve a better quality of life and gain abilities that would turn them into active productive members of their society. Also, it is common that women who are taught by other women to participate and learn from each other and eventually take charge and lead their community-based initiatives. It is also a fact that women tend to be more empathetic and willing to provide guidance to their peers, resulting in a positive spillover in their communities. Therefore, by creating spaces for women, where they learn and share knowledge, you empower them.

Do you think human rights and sustainable development go hand in hand?

Yes, absolutely. All 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) of the Agenda 2030 have a human rights approach, and while working to leave no one behind these objectives respect the promotion of human rights such as the right to work, the right to get quality education, the promotion of equality, the right to have a life with dignity and free development, among many others. By working on the SDG’s, the international community seeks to strengthen the quality of life for all and reinforce universal human rights everywhere in the world. At the same time, I think we are facing an important reformulation on how we can face the challenges of the future and promote fundamental changes in our society. Undoubtedly, on an individual level, better citizens emerge when they are taught to promote sustainable development, to respect human rights, and to support equal opportunities.

What’s your takeaway from the International Futures training program? 

International Futures is an amazing platform that creates a community of young leaders around the world who are change makers and seek to promote better societies. During this program, I was able to build strong connections and share knowledge with young professionals from different countries (Brazil, China, Germany, Indonesia, India, Mexico, and South Africa), resulting in a lifetime network of colleagues that support international cooperation. The 15th International Futures alumni and their staff brought to the table an amazing exchange of ideas and debates about the current challenges that our world faces, being a space were intense dialogues took place and where we were able to discuss and learn from each other. As a researcher, International Futures was a life-changing experience, it helped me to understand more about policies that are being implemented in all of these countries and it was a training to improve my own capabilities in cooperation and dialogue within a multicultural setting – all of these key aspects for diplomacy. An opportunity like the International Futures training program also reinforced my belief that, even though we come from different backgrounds, have different nationalities, and speak different languages, we are all so deeply connected, especially when working to make this a better world for all.

The International Future Program

Every year we open two slots for German civil society.

If you are interested in the programme please contact programme manager Isabel Reible (isabel.reible@diplo.de) to get more information or visit our websites:



This year’s program will take place from September 14 – September 28
(Deadline to apply will be June 30)

We are looking forward to hearing from you!

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