Friends of Utah: Angelic Del Castilho

Ms. Angelic Del Castilho is the first and only woman elected as political party leader in Suriname. She works to unite the culturally, ethnically, and religiously diverse society of Suriname. She supports efforts to bring more stability and security to the citizens of Suriname, who face economic and political challenges. Her goal -- to build her political leadership skills and strengthen her network to further unite people and build bridges in multicultural Suriname -- made Ms. Del Castilho an ideal candidate for the November 2019 program, Women Leaders -- Promoting Peace and Security, arranged by FHI 360.

During her time in the U.S., Ms. Del Castilho examined the current and historical roles of women in political transitions, post-conflict reconstruction, humanitarian emergencies, conflict prevention, and peacemaking efforts and explored constitutional, judicial, and legislative processes and practices that promote gender equality and protect women's human rights. Her group met with a variety of professional resources including Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupskie, Catholic Community Services, the Utah Women’s Coalition, and the Women’s Leadership Institute.

Ms. Del Castilho’s group had the opportunity to visit Centro de la Familia Utah, a Utah nonprofit committed to providing underserved families access to educational resources. Her group discussed the Center’s Healthy Relationships program, funded by the Utah Department of Health, which seeks to prevent rape and sexual violence among the state’s Latino population as well as NGO-government relations, fundraising, membership recruitment and retention, and community outreach.

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Ms. Casthilo's group stands in front of Centro de la Familia Utah.

Another highlight of Ms. Del Castilho’s visit to Utah was her meeting with the University of Utah Women’s Resource Center. During their time at the U of U Women’s Resource Center, Ms. Del Casthilo’s group examined the Center’s services for women on the university campus, which vary from advocacy for women’s studies programs, support for students who are working mothers, and recruitment and retention of women faculty. They also learned about the Go Girlz Community Initiative, an early outreach program to introduce young women from underprivileged communities to the benefits of pursuing higher education.

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Ms. Castilho's group gather at the U of U Women's Resource Center.

Since visiting Utah, Ms. Del Castilho reports having shared her Utah experiences with others, networking with more people, and having increased knowledge in her field of work. Unfortunately, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has limited Ms. Del Casthilo’s ability to pursue her plans. She shares, “I am in politics and COVID-19 has severely limited my opportunities to meet with our constituents personally.” However, she shares that this experience “increased awareness of the use of the internet for communication and increased my participation in seminars and webinars and zoom meetings.” Overall, the skills Ms. Del Casthilo learned in Utah provided her with “stories and experiences that make good sharing material during zooms and other online activity.”

Government workers around the world have been forced to adapt to the changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. We express our appreciation for the essential workers, like Ms. Angelic Del Castilho, who continue to take steps to empower communities regardless of the circumstance.