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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor names new women’s advocate

Vilmarie Rivera Sierra


Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced on Sunday the appointment of Vilmarie Rivera Sierra as women’s advocate.

The appointment, having been made during the legislative recess of the Senate, takes effect immediately.

“The new Women’s Advocate has extensive experience in defending women’s rights and serving victims of abuse, which was instrumental in my decision to make this appointment,” the governor said in a written statement. “It is truly impressive, the dedication of Vilmarie Rivera Sierra, throughout her professional life, to provide shelter, protection, guidance and emotional support to thousands of women and children who have been victims of abuse.”

Since 2004, Rivera Sierra has stood out as executive director of the Hogar Nueva Mujer Santa María de la Merced in Cayey. As part of her work, she designed, developed and implemented services for female victims of domestic and sexual violence, as well as their children. She also chairs the Domestic Violence Shelters Network, was part of the Committee for Gender Violence Prevention, Support, Rescue and Education (PARE Committee), as well as the Services subcommittee, from where she ensured that the necessary help is offered to victims, and is a member of Coordinadora Paz para la Mujer, among other organizations and committees related to this fight.

“I am confident that Vilmarie Rivera will be a great asset to Puerto Rico in this position,” the governor added.

Rivera Sierra holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) and a master’s degree in education from Universidad del Sagrado Corazón (USC). She has also received recognition from various entities and organizations, including Mujer Emprende Latina (ME Lanzo Empoderada 2022) and Women of Worth Award (L’Oreal Paris 2015), among others.

“I know, from her work in the PARE Committee, that Rivera Sierra has the ability to reconcile conflicting positions, seek consensus and avoid unnecessary controversies in the fight against gender violence,” Pierluisi said. “She has vast knowledge and a proven background in the fight against gender-based violence, so I hope that the members of the Senate can evaluate this appointment fairly and on its merits. I have an unwavering commitment to combating sexist violence on the island and creating collective awareness about the importance of respect and fair treatment among all human beings in Puerto Rico.”

The meanwhile extended until June 30 the executive order that declared a state of emergency against gender violence.

The announcement of the appointment came after Sen. Migdalia González Arroyo, who chairs the Women’s Affairs Committee in the upper chamber, was the latest woman in a high-profile position in Puerto Rico to ask the governor to fill the vacancy following the resignation of former Women’s Advocate Lersy Boria last August.

“We ask the Governor to urgently fill this vacancy. We need a woman committed to the struggles that we and the most vulnerable populations face every day,” González Arroyo said in a written statement issued Sunday morning. “We have seen an increase in cases of violence against women this festive season and the central government does nothing. We need to carry a clear message of no more violence against women and it must start from the Office of the Women’s Advocate.”

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