As individuals criticize stereotypes and advocate for a more inclusive society, societal perspectives on inclusivity consistently change.
In a groundbreaking development in Spain, 45-year-old Maria del Carmen Galcerán, widely known as Mar Galcerán, has emerged as the first woman with Down’s syndrome to serve as a regional deputy, specifically in the Parliament of Valencia.
Galcerán, a devoted member of the People’s Party (PP), initially contested in the May 28, 2023 Valencian regional election, narrowly missing a seat.
However, a recent twist of events saw her appointed to a vacant seat in September following the promotion of deputy Ernesto Fernández Pardo.
This marks a historic moment, as Galcerán becomes a trailblazer in the political landscape for differently abled individuals.
Having dedicated 26 years to public service, Galcerán’s journey began at the age of 18 when she joined the PP.
She spent 13 years as an intern within the Office of the President of the Generalitat Valenciana. Over the years, she held various roles in different departments, including Social Security, Equality and Inclusive Policies, and currently, at the Ministry of Health and Public Health.
Galcerán’s commitment extends beyond politics. For four years, she led Asindown, a non-governmental organization supporting families with children affected by Down’s syndrome.
During a recent interview, she pointed out the organization’s commitment to promoting the acceptance and integration of individuals with Down’s syndrome into society.
Pioneering Inclusion in Politics and Breaking Down Barriers
With her new role in the regional parliament, Galcerán aims to challenge prevailing prejudices directed towards individuals with Down’s syndrome.
Speaking to The Guardian, she expressed her desire for people to see her as a person, beyond her disability.
Despite her historic achievement, Galcerán acknowledges the varied online reactions to her success.
She stated, “There are people who support me. But there are also others who think I’m not capable.” Galcerán attributes a significant part of her success to the support of her colleagues at PP, particularly thanking President Carlos Mazón for providing opportunities within the party.
Galcerán’s accomplishment echoes a global trend of breaking barriers for individuals with Down’s syndrome in politics.
Notable instances include Éléonore Laloux in France and Fintan Bray in Ireland, who made history with their political positions.
Mar Galcerán’s journey stands as a testament to the ongoing shift in societal attitudes, promoting a more inclusive and accepting environment.
As she takes on this pioneering role, Galcerán aims to contribute to dismantling long-standing prejudices and advocating for the full inclusion of differently-abled individuals in political spheres.