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  • Writer's pictureEsther Teidou Ogriki

International Day of Women in Diplomacy

There has been a notable glass ceiling effect imposed on women from scoring high-earned positions in different sectors and professions; and for a highly male-dominated field, diplomacy is not so different.

So what makes this day, June 24th, so special?

It’s that time of the year when we gather around and celebrate the wonderful works of women. June 24th was declared the International Day of Women in Diplomacy by the United Nations General Assembly. The Maldives along with the core group of countries comprising El Salvador, Eritrea, Grenada, Guyana, Kenya, Latvia, Lebanon, Malta, Qatar, Saint Lucia, and South Africa recognized that it is time to celebrate the ways in which women are breaking barriers and making a difference in the field of diplomacy.

Women barely participated in international peace processes between 1992 and 2019. Now, gender mainstreaming has been improved, but not fully achieved, by the progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets. This has been greatly aided by gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

The titular day was designed to applaud women and recognize their contributions that are often overlooked in the field of diplomacy. It’s amazing to see the drastic shift in women's participation in diplomacy between 2018 and 2022; going up from 16% to 22%. Although it is not a fast development; it is progress.

This, however, does not erase the obstacles and challenges women have had to face to get there, and these are problems that young and aspiring diplomats are still going through. Unfortunately, women have still found themselves in difficult positions in large organizations, including the United Nations.

Challenges faced by Women in Diplomacy

  • It is difficult to determine who qualifies as a 'woman in diplomacy'. Female diplomats who are career diplomats or appointed by politicians can be included within the group of women in diplomacy. However, there are limitations to how this group is measured.

  • Women in diplomacy may also face gender bias; which can be experienced even with women in higher positions. Hence, their contributions are overlooked and men receive credit for their achievements. This may also affect aspiring female diplomats.

  • Women face trials of unequal opportunities, such as promotions. Men are often considered first for high-ranking roles or positions, diminishing the rights and contributions of women.

  • Women in diplomacy are constantly faced with skepticism from society in general. They are often asked to prioritize their families over their careers. Unmarried women, in this sense, are also not taken seriously because they are not attached to a man’s name.

  • Incidentally, women in diplomacy may have to navigate cultural practices and norms that favor men. This simply means that they have to adjust to the cultural practices and norms of the countries they are working in; while still being effective in their roles. This involves finding creative solutions to challenges, building relationships with key stakeholders, and adopting their communication styles to be more effective in different cultural contexts.

  • Expectations are higher for women than for men; they are made to work much harder regardless of their positions.

International Day of Women in Diplomacy is not just a day to celebrate female diplomats, but to also shed light on the struggles they each face and are continuously facing in their positions and representing, not just their countries, but women as a whole.

According to the United Nations, countries also use this time to celebrate themselves in successfully demonstrating the inclusivity of women in their parliaments and governments and also guaranteeing equality between men and women. Advocating for increased representation of women in key decision-making positions will greatly shape and implement global agendas.

Hopefully, these celebrations will encourage more breakthroughs for women in the diplomatic field and cause more inclusive and diverse cultures that will accommodate them.

WRITTEN BY Esther Teidou Ogriki.

Ogriki Esther Teidou is a reader, writer, artist, and a young feminist who is very passionate about equality and seeks to explore ways, especially through art, to emphasize the strength of women and a healthy partnership between men and women in order to make positive changes in society. When she's not worrying about the backward mindset of Nigerian society, she spends her time watching Kdramas and enjoying the company of her friends and family.

You can catch her on LinkedIn, and Instagram: @_esther.og and @littleblackartist

EDITED BY Chizulu Uwolloh.

'Zulu is a writer, self-proclaimed bibliophile, lawyer, and international development professional passionate about social impact and showing people how they can create change in their communities. She is also the founder of Kurerie, a digital platform, and community that amplifies the voices of youth making an impact in their communities. Kurerie educates young people on how they can become active stakeholders in the achievement of the SDGs.

Want to connect with Zulu?

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