Laura Chinchilla Miranda was the first woman to be elected to the Costa Rican presidency (2010-2014).
Her election as President of the Republic of Costa Rica was preceded by a successful political career and service in the public sector which began with her appointment as Minister of Public Security - the first woman to hold that position - from 1996 and 1998. While in that role, she also served as President of the National Immigration Board and the National Drug Council. Between 2002 and 2006 she was elected as member of the National Congress where she chaired the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Committee on Narcotics. In 2006 she was elected Vice President of the Republic of Costa Rica, assuming office as the Ministry of Justice at the same time.
During her years of public service she highlighted the promotion of various policies regarding citizen security, including the professionalization of the police of the country, the reform of the criminal and criminal procedure codes, the adoption of laws against drug trafficking and organized crime, and diverse modalities of citizen participation in preventing violence. One of her most outstanding achievements as President was the steady decline in major crime rates in Costa Rica, including homicide and femicide.
Mrs. Chinchilla also prompted measures on institutional reform of the Costa Rican government, on digital government, on the promotion of the rights of women, on the protection of children and on environmental sustainability. As former President, she is active on global issues and participates in various forums, such as the Inter American Dialogue and the Latin America Presidencial Commission. Chinchilla earned a bachelor’s degree in political science (1981) from the University of Costa Rica and a master’s degree in public policy (1989) from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Co-sponsored by: HKS Women and Public Policy Program