Most diplomats are still men, but today, there are more and more women in those jobs. Last week’s Annual Celebration of Women Diplomats, sponsored by the Women’s Foreign Policy Group, recognized the 28 women who serve as their country’s ambassador to the United States. These women come from many parts of the world – the Middle East, Europe, Africa, the Caribbean — and have taken differing paths to diplomacy. But, the 10 women who were able to attend the celebration highlighted the tremendous power of women in diplomacy. They were all strong, smart, accomplished, funny, determined, proud of their countries, and (well) impressive.
They quoted Madeleine Albright. They acknowledged the leadership of Secretary Clinton (one Ambassador said she’d been an event earlier in the day where Secretary Clinton was called “hotter than hot”). They celebrated and thanked US Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer, who spoke to the group about her impressions about women and leadership from her global work.
They celebrated the sisterhood of being women ambassadors and talked about how knowing and working with each other gave them connections across regions of the world. They lamented that the diplomatic life often means making friends that they then leave behind as they move to another country or another post. They talked about how their countries were doing with respect to women’s progress. They were honest and real.
One was a former parliamentarian, Amb. Elena Poptodrova from Bulgaria, on her second tour here in the US. Ambassador Claudia Fritsche had been Liechtenstein’s ambassador to the UN, a country in which women only gained the right to vote in 1984. Ambassador Purificacion Angue Ondo of Equatorial Guinea had been a political prisoner. Ambassadors Ritva Koukku-Ronde from Finland and La Celia Aritha Prince from St. Vincent and the Grenadines are both their countries’ first women ambassadors to the US.
It was, in short, another lesson about needing to identify the best talent in every field to move our countries forward and to resolve our disputes. Here’s to that sisterhood, and of course, to the sisters.