As part of the International Women's Day 2016 a call for nominations for Geneva-based inspirational women working to protect the environment was launched in February 2016. A total of 160 submissions were received, including women working for inter-governmental, non-governmental, governmental and business organizations, academic institutions and civil society. A committee selected 20 of these inspirational women to be part of an exhibition celebrating their achievements, launched on 8 March 2016, on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Maria NEIRA was among the 20 women selected.
Maria was appointed Director of the Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health at the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland in September 2005. Prior to that, she was Vice-Minister of Health and President of the Spanish Food Safety Agency. She previously has held several senior positions in WHO. Maria began her career as a medical coordinator working with refugees in El Salvador and Honduras for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). Maria is a Spanish national, and a medical doctor by training. She specialized in Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases and Public Health. Maria has been awarded the Médaille de l’Ordre national du Mérite by the Government of France and is a member of the Academy of Medicine, Asturias, Spain.