We are reminded of the outstanding strides women have made in removing obstacles in the traditionally male-dominated area of diplomacy as we think back on the second International Day for Women in Diplomacy, which we observed on June 24. However, a sizable gender disparity still exists despite these improvements. We must acknowledge the pressing need to address this issue and take decisive steps to advance and empower women in diplomacy if we are to attain true equality.
Persistent gender gap
Despite progress in the political representation of women worldwide, there is still a gender gap in diplomacy. As of January 2023, just 31 nations had female leaders of state or government, according to UN Women. Additionally, the proportion of women in powerful positions around the world, such as defense ministers (12%), negotiators (less than 13%), and peace process mediators (6%) is disturbingly low.
According to the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy’s 2023 Women in Diplomacy Index, there are currently about 21% more women serving as ambassadors and permanent representatives among the 193 UN member nations. The situation of gender equality in diplomacy is grimly depicted by these data.
It is clear that things have moved painfully slowly. Except for a small number of nations that have succeeded in achieving gender equality at the highest diplomatic levels, the majority of the world still falls below the global average of 21%.
Global gender parity at the ambassadorial level will not be achieved at the current rate of progress for another 30 years, and certain nations may need even longer. This delay is a missed chance to capitalize on the revolutionary potential of women’s representation. The hurdles that prevent women from being retained and promoted must be addressed in order to get over this.
Missed chances and unexpected inaction
It is puzzling why diplomatic development has been so sluggish given the achievements made through programs like the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda, the rise of feminist foreign policies, and increasing funding for gender-focused projects. Since the inaugural UN World Conference on Women in 1975, a number of UN conferences and agreements have placed a focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment. It is past time for the diplomatic community to fully accredit these ideas.
The advantages of female representation
Increasing the number of women in diplomatic roles serves society as a whole and is not merely a matter of fairness. Women in leadership positions contribute special knowledge and skills, as well as a new viewpoint, to challenging socioeconomic situations. Their propensity for bridging divides and looking for common ground encourages cooperation and bipartisanship. Additionally, their active involvement in negotiations and peace processes results in peace that lasts. Ignoring the incalculable benefits of including women in diplomacy is a big error.
Political will and solutions
It takes political commitment and the abolition of discriminatory practices to address the glaring inequity in diplomacy. We must examine our own beliefs and recognize the wealth of evidence supporting the benefits of women’s participation in decision-making. The time has come to acknowledge that women, who make up half of the world’s population, should be equally represented in all political bodies and organizations. Both women and men must work together in order to accomplish this aim.
Men participating in the solution
Men are crucial in breaking down the current all-boys club mindset that permeates diplomacy. Since they predominately hold leadership roles, gaining their backing and participation is essential to bringing about lasting change. Men being left out of the discussion will simply cause it to drag on.
Coordinating efforts for diplomatic gender equality
While we commemorate the accomplishments of female diplomats, we must also acknowledge how much work still has to be done. It is a collective call to action for men and women to use statistics and research to elevate the voices of women. At every step of their diplomatic careers, we must place a high priority on the inclusion, retention, and promotion of women. We can only advance the status of women in diplomacy by facing our prejudices and doubts