Costa Rican Human Rights Activist Vicenta González Receives Regional Nansen Award from the UN Refugee Agency

    A strong defender of Women and Refugee rights

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    Vicenta González is a 74-year-old woman, born in Nicaragua and a nationalized Costa Rican for almost half a century. She has dedicated her life to serving the local communities in the north of the country, and is recognized for her humanitarian work as a natural midwife in the area, as well as the application of original curative treatments that have contributed to the recovery of the health of many people who come to her for aid.

    Refugee and Women`s right advocate

    This self-sacrificing social leader from the North of Costa Rica shelters on her farm asylum seeking refugees who have recently arrived in the nation, coming from other latitudes of Latin America, the most frequent being from the neighboring country of Nicaragua. Helping refugee seekers to integrate and find the assistance and protection they need during their stay in the country. As an advocate for women’s rights, she has also supported women fleeing domestic violence to find a livelihood and seek independence.

    As defender of the human rights of the most vulnerable populations Vicenta González said, “Well, if I have to die for something, it will be defending women, I have put all my effort and my life so that women get out of that cycle of violence,” said this exemplary woman.

    “These are extremely needy people. They need a place to hide; Furthermore, when they arrive, they don’t know where to go or know anyone,” said the distinguished social worker, respectfully nicknamed Doña Vicenta. “If someone comes in with injuries or illnesses, I have to attend them, I act as a nurse, a doctor, a lawyer and even a babysitter.”

    An organic farmer

    Doña Vicenta has a small cocoa plantation on her farm which is in the process of obtaining organic certification. Together with the women she has helped, they founded AMECUP, a cooperative that produces cocoa and processes it into various food and beauty products. This small business helps unite local women and refugee claimants and provides them with a livelihood.

    For nearly half a century, women have come to Vicenta González’s farm for help. The farm is in a hard-to-reach area in northern Costa Rica, at the end of a rutted dirt road, which in the rainy season becomes a quagmire difficult to pass. Despite this, the entrance to the farm is rarely empty: vehicles of all kinds can be seen there, as well as a stream of visitors arriving on foot.

    Granted recognition by the UN

    Doña Vicenta, as she is better known in her community, was recently awarded the Regional Award for the Americas by the United Nations Agency for Refugees in recognition of her exceptional career in favor of refugees, applicants of refuge and for her historical work in the protection and empowerment of various women in northern Costa Rica, regardless of their nationality or immigration status.

    UNHCR’s Nansen Award, established in 1954, is awarded annually to an individual, group or organization in recognition for outstanding and dedicated service to refugees, internally displaced persons or stateless persons. Since 2017, the Nansen program has also recognized a regional winner from Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa, who are selected from hundreds of nominees. One of the global winning political figures for 2022 is the former Federal Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel. This is the most prestigious honor bestowed by UNHCR on historical figures.

    Along influential world players In Geneva, Switzerland, Mrs. Vicenta Gonzales had the opportunity to participate in the ceremony where the global awardee and other regional winners were recognized. During her stay in Geneva, she also had the opportunity to meet people with great influence at the diplomatic and business level, which can strengthen her humanitarian venture and give her work greater projection at a national, regional and international level.

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