Catalina was born in Costa Rica with spina bifida. Since getting her degree in Law, she dedicated herself to human rights, firstly as a representative of civil society, and secondly through her work for various institutions including the Disability Rights Advocacy Fond, the UN and the World Bank. In 2006, she participated in the elaboration of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
She is the first Special Rapporteur appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council who monitors the implementation of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Her mandate is an extension of her long-time work experience as well as engagement in promoting human rights and defending the rights of persons with disabilities.
Since taking up her duties as first Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities on 1 December 2014, she has elaborated recommendations for social protection, citizen participation, support services, inclusive policies for the implementation of the ODS-es, sexual and reproductive rights, legal capacity and other areas relevant for creating an inclusive public policy framework for persons with disabilities.
Throughout her work, she has maintained regular contact with representatives from organizations of persons with disabilities, collecting information on violations of their rights. This continuous dialogue represents the foundation for her recommendations for normative changes and institutional practices, which encourage governments and international institutions to respect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities.