Spain has made history after Mar Galceran, a 45-year-old with Down’s Syndrome, has been embraced by the People’s Party, making her Spain’s first parliamentarian with the condition.
Spain’s Trailblazing Parliamentarian with Down’s Syndrome
For decades, Mar Galceran dedicated herself to ensuring that individuals with intellectual disabilities were integral to societal conversations. Recently, the culmination of her tireless efforts manifested as a historic moment, making her Spain’s first parliamentarian with Down’s syndrome, a testament to her perseverance and a significant stride towards inclusivity.
Galceran’s journey into politics commenced at the age of 18 when she joined the conservative People’s Party (PP). Attracted by the party’s embrace of tradition, she embarked on a slow but determined climb through its ranks.
Her commitment to politics was rewarded in May, when she secured the 20th position on the PP’s list for Valencia’s regional elections, marking a pivotal moment in her political career. Her achievement resonates globally, aligning her with a select group of individuals with Down’s syndrome who have made a career in politics.
Ángela Bachiller’s pioneering entry into Spanish politics in 2013 as the first city councilor with Down’s syndrome in Valladolid paved the way for Galceran’s historical entry.
A Legacy of Inclusion
Before her political career, Galceran served the public for over two decades in civil service roles, with a specific focus on policies promoting inclusion for those with intellectual disabilities. Her extensive experience provided her with an in-depth understanding of their needs, laying a robust foundation for her advocacy.
Galceran’s leadership at Asindown, a Valencian organisation dedicated to supporting families with children who have Down’s syndrome, shows she has a natural, unwavering commitment to advancing inclusivity. Galceran’s “unprecedented” entry into the regional parliament is a huge step in dismantling prejudices against individuals with Down’s syndrome.
In her own words, Galceran expressed the mixed reactions she received online, stating, “You find all sorts on social media. There are people who support me.
But there are also others who think I’m not capable. But these are people who don’t know me or my background.” She insisted, “It’s unprecedented,” and noted the improvements in society’s outlook on people with Down’s syndrome, “Society is starting to see that people with Down’s syndrome have a lot to contribute. But it’s a very long road.”
Down’s Syndrome Representation
Galceran’s groundbreaking achievement mirrors a global trend where individuals with Down’s syndrome are making their mark in politics. In 2020, Éléonore Laloux became the first person with Down’s syndrome elected to public office in France as a city council member, echoing the spirit of breaking barriers and fostering inclusivity.
“For me, people with disabilities, visible or invisible, are full members of society and have the right to have the same access as everyone else,” Laloux said. Éléonore Laloux’s remarkable contributions to fostering inclusion and accessibility in all facets of government have earned her prestigious recognition.
Recently bestowed with membership in the National Order of Merit, Laloux’s commitment to creating a more inclusive society has left an indelible mark. Leveraging her personal lived experience, Laloux has spearheaded innovative projects that transcend traditional barriers, bringing about positive change. One notable initiative led by Laloux is the development of a virtual tour of a local belfry, demonstrating her dedication to making cultural landmarks accessible to everyone.
By embracing technology, she ensures that individuals, regardless of their physical abilities, can virtually experience and appreciate historical sites. This groundbreaking project reflects Laloux’s visionary approach to inclusivity, where heritage and culture become accessible to a broader audience.
Down syndrome remains the most widespread genetic disability worldwide, with approximately 133,000 individuals, including around 13,000 in Australia.
Birth rates among people with Down’s syndrome are high, stressing the need for their representation across various roles, including leadership and decision-making positions.
A New Era of Inclusive Politics
Galceran’s election symbolizes more than a historical footnote; it ushers in an unprecedented era of political representation and transformative attitudes toward disability.
Her journey challenges preconceptions, fostering an age where inclusivity and diversity become tangible realities rather than aspirational concepts.
As Mar Galceran takes her rightful place in the Spanish parliament, she brings with her the hopes and aspirations of communities across Spain, envisioning an inclusive political system where every voice is heard and valued equally.
Her triumph is not just an individual victory but a pivotal moment in the ongoing global movement toward a more inclusive and diverse political landscape.
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