First Lady of the Republic of Panama & UNAIDS Special Ambassador for AIDS in Latin America
HE Lorena Castillo de Varela is the wife of HE Juan Carlos Varela, the President of the Republic of Panama. She assumed the role of first lady of the country from July 1, 2014.
The First Lady worked as a journalist for 17 years and won the National Journalism Prize awarded by the Forum of Journalists in 2002 for her report on ‘Handicapped Children’ in Cuba. In the same year she was awarded the Presenter of the Year with the Victoria Award from the Universidad Santa Maria La Antigua. She served as the host of several TV programs including “El Abuelo de mi Abuela”.
On November 16, 2015, she was appointed as Special Advocate for AIDS in Latin America by the United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS). She is committed to strengthening the integration of strategies to promote a human rights based approach, dignity and non-discrimination to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. In this role and as the Global Spokesperson of the Zero Discrimination Movement, she leads initiatives with the aim of creating a climate of respect, solidarity and inclusion, where all people can live without fear of being attacked, criminalised or stigmatised.
HE Lorena Castillo de Varela is devoted to strengthening social solidarity and the integral development of families. She promoted the elimination of early, forced and child marriage to ensure that all girls are empowered to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, on the commemoration of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in a round table held by the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the Organization of American States (OAS). She is focused on introducing legislative policies that ensure girls have equal economic opportunities, comprehensive services for HIV, sexual and reproductive health, including prevention and treatment for cervical cancer. She also promotes gender equality, empowerment and the inclusion of women in their different facets.
The First Lady is a member of the Steering Committee of the Laureates and Leaders for Children. In 2016, through the platform she committed to working towards complete elimination of child labour in Panama. The First Lady is the mother of three children.