ABU DHABI, 7th March, 2019 (WAM) — Joining the global community in commemorating International Women’s Day, the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, EDA, today hosted a high-level panel discussion on ‘Women in Diplomacy: Lessons Learned in Recruitment and Retention’, aimed at highlighting the powerful role of women in diplomacy and foreign policy.
The event saw a number of Emirati female diplomats as well as a group of foreign ambassadors and other diplomats appointed to the UAE to exchange expertise and share insights. Participants also discussed their views on the importance of involving women in diplomatic work, and explored ways to ensure the retention and career advancement of female diplomats.
The occasion drew the participation of Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi and Member of EDA’s Advisory Council, as keynote speaker. The impressive line-up of speakers featured Saad Cachalia, Ambassador of South Africa to the UAE; Francisca Elizabeth Mendez Escobar, Ambassador of Mexico to the UAE; Elisabeth Cardoso Jordao, Ambassador of Luxembourg to the UAE; Astra Kurme, Ambassador of Latvia to the UAE; Hjayceelyn M. Quintana, Ambassador of the Philippines to the UAE; Riitta Swan, Ambassador of Finland to the UAE; Francois Penguilly, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of France in Abu Dhabi; and Dr Al Saghira Al Ahbabi, Director of the American Affairs Department at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
In her keynote address, Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, said: “I am delighted to join EDA in the global celebration of women. Today is a day to celebrate the success of women’s engagement, of women’s empowerment and the value of women as mothers, as sisters and as leaders.”
Highlighting the UAE’s success story, she added: “Female empowerment is crucial to achieve gender equality. It is no secret that those societies that invest in uplifting their women don’t just survive but thrive. It should therefore come as no surprise that our country, the UAE, is so prosperous.”
During discussions on raising awareness on gender balance in diplomacy, EDA was praised for its trailblazing research on the annual ‘EDA Gender and Diplomacy Diplograph’. The study, which was spearheaded by Dr Nawal Al Hosany, Permanent Representative of the UAE to the International Renewable Energy Agency, maps the percentage of female ambassadors representing the countries of the G20 and the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC. The inaugural study, conducted for the year 2018, indicated that out of the 2,607 ambassadors currently appointed by G20 countries, only 435, or 16.7 percent, are women.
Speaking on the success of this study, Bernardino Leon, Director General of EDA, said: “We launched the EDA Gender and Diplomacy Diplograph to shed light on the gender imbalance in the field of diplomacy. While we have witnessed an increased representation of female diplomats in recent years, it is still rare to find them in the highest positions. Unfortunately, we still face challenges in the retention and advancement of women diplomats.”
He added: “Through today’s event, we aim to create a platform for discussion on the importance and urgency of addressing this gender gap. We are pleased to welcome such a distinguished group of diplomats and we look forward to benefitting from their expertise and experience. It is imperative that our students, the future diplomats of this country, understand the significance of women’s meaningful participation in decision-making processes at all levels. Here at EDA, we have the pleasure of nurturing and empowering a group of brilliant female students and I am certain a bright future awaits them.”
For her part, Mariam Al Mahmoud, Acting Deputy Director General of EDA, said: “I would like to extend sincere congratulations to all the women of the world, and to my Emirati sisters particularly, for their exceptional achievements that have pushed boundaries in various fields, including education, law, health, energy and many more. I am also proud to share that female representation in the UAE’s diplomatic service has reached to over 30 percent, and the number is continuously increasing. The UAE is one of the world’s leading countries in empowering women and involving both genders in everything that serves our beloved country.”
While moderating the high-level panel discussions, Mariam Al Mahmoud added: “The message from today’s event is clear: It is imperative to empower women and involve them in diplomacy in leadership roles. The needs of women must be acknowledged and answered with robust and sustained governmental will and action, because investment in women is an investment in the future of a country.”