Paula Moreno is founder and president of Corporación Manos Visibles, a Ford grantee working to redefine power and cultivate a new kind of leadership in Colombia. In 2007, she became the first Afro-Colombian woman—as well as the youngest person—to hold a cabinet position in Colombia’s government when she was appointed minister of culture.
“I was the youngest woman to be a minister in Colombia,” she says. “I was the youngest in the history of the country, because I was 28. And at the same time, I was the first Black woman to be in that position. I see power as a way of serving the society. My main motivation for doing this work is because I didn’t want to be the only one. And I’m working to make that more the rule—not exception.”
Moreno is disrupting inequality by breaking barriers and helping cultivate a new kind of leadership in Colombia, empowering other young women to be the next generation of women in technology, through the work of her nonprofit foundation, Corporación Manos Visibles.
“I create[ed] a program in my organization called Innovation Girls. We help to incubate in one of the most excluded and violent places in Colombia,” she explains. “We help to build robotic schools and we have girls learning programming and learning to create solutions in their communities. And I really love how they rediscovered their role in their society—as women, how they can build tools to really make the society work in a different way.”
Moreno is part of the #FutureIsHers multimedia series of interviews, essays, and more, celebrating the innovators, risk-takers, and change-makers the Ford Foundation has proudly supported and the impact they’ve had on the lives of women and girls everywhere. Despite the many challenges women and girls face, around the world they’re rising up. Determined and persistent, they’re leading the way in showing us what gender justice looks like, disrupting inequality and creating a world where social change is possible: The future is hers.