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Maria Ines Castillo

2024 Fellow

Minister of Social Development of Panama

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María Inés Castillo de Sanmartín served as the Minister of Social Development of Panama and the Technical Coordinator of the Social Cabinet from June 2020 to June 2024. During her term, she led the Ministry of Social Development (MIDES) in implementing comprehensive social policies aimed at benefiting the national population, with a particular focus on vulnerable groups. María Inés chaired National Councils for the Care of Adolescent Mothers, for Gender Parity, and for Children and Adolescents, among others. She was also a member of the Steering Committee of the SDG Synthesis Coalition and served as the Chair of the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the Organization of American States.

As Coordinator of the Social Cabinet, María articulated the Plan Colmena, Panama’s country strategy addressing poverty and inequality. This plan successfully reduced multidimensional poverty from 19.1% in 2017 to 14.8% in 2022 (SDG 1) and lowered hunger rates to 5.3% in 2023 (SDG 2). She promoted economic empowerment and reproductive health rights for women and advanced the National Care System (SDG 5).

María holds a degree in Law and Political Science from the University of Panama, a Master’s in Business Law from Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, a Master’s in Public Policy Management from ADEN, and a Master’s in Corporate Social Responsibility from the University of Barcelona OBS. She was a member of the Board of Vital Voices Panama. María belongs to ADP and FONAMUP, driven by a profound commitment to social and gender equity and the empowerment of vulnerable populations.