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Here’s to the Sisterhood of Women Ambassadors

Mon, Jun 11, 2012

Women and Children

A BLOG POST BY STEPHENIE FOSTER

Most diplomats are still men, but today, there are more and more women in those jobs.  Tonight’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 tonight’s 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.


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Women, Peace and Security – UN Security Council Resolution 1325

Women, Peace and Security 

 

UN Security Council Resolution 1325 was the first of its kind to specifically address the unique impact of conflict on women, and women’s important contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace. Passed in 2000, it marked a watershed moment when the international community formally recognized the integral role of women and gender to peace and security. UNSCR 1325 has remained an essential tool for encouraging governments to fulfill their obligations to ensure women are included as agents for peace and security in all processes, and its framework has inspired further action by the UN and civil societies and governments around the world to mainstream gender into their work on conflict resolution.

 

Following UNSCR 1325, subsequent Security Council Resolutions further defined the importance of women’s roles in conflict and peacebuilding. Resolutions 1820, passed in 2008, and 1888, passed in 2009,  recognize sexual violence as an issue of international peace and security and reiterate the need for a comprehensive response to sexual and gender-based violence. In 2010, Resolution 1960 created specific steps needed for the prevention of sexual violence, and Resolution 2106 in 2013 looked specifically at accountability for crimes of sexual violence. The most recent resolution on women, peace and security, UNSCR 2122, aims to strengthen measures to improve the participation of women in all phases of conflict resolution and prevention.

 

UNSCR 1325 and successive Resolutions are an important show of international support that ensure women, peace and security are on the agenda for international organizations and governments across the globe, but there are many steps between the passage of such resolutions and their full implementation on the ground.  One tool that helps bridge this gap are National Action Plans(NAPs), written plans that specify how a country will mainstream gender, and the principles of 1325 into its defense, development and diplomatic activities. Over 36 countries in the world have drafted NAPs, and that number is growing every year.

 

In addition to government- and UN-level documents and programs, it is important to consider the work women do in more informal, Track II diplomatic and peace negotiations. Around the world, women are active as civil society leaders, and in many cases, such as Liberia, Northern Ireland and the Philippines, their grassroots work has played a major role in peace processes.

 

For more resources on women, peace and security, visit The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and SecurityPeaceWomenUSIP, and The Institute for Inclusive Security.

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