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Why women matter in diplomacy

Why women matter in diplomacy

Women have been playing a crucial role in global governance since the drafting and signing of the United Nations Charter in 1945. Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. Women bring immense benefits to diplomacy. Their leadership styles, expertise and priorities broaden the scope of issues under consideration and the quality of outcomes. Research shows that when women serve in cabinets and parliaments, they pass laws and policies that are better for ordinary people, the environment and social cohesion. Advancing measures to increase women’s participation in peace and political processes is vital to achieving women’s de facto equality in the context of entrenched discrimination.


Unveiling of “The Best Weapon” at UN Headquarters. In the words of Nelson Mandela “The best weapon is to sit down and talk.”
PHOTO: UN Photo/Mark Garten

Out of the 193 Member States of the United Nations, only 34 women serve as elected Heads of State or Government. Whilst progress has been made in many countries, the global proportion of women in other levels of political office worldwide still has far to go: 21% of the world’s ministers, 26% of national parliamentarians, and 34% of elected seats of local government. According to a new UN report, at the current pace of progress, equal representation in parliament will not be achieved until 2062.

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) is the world’s largest yearly meeting of world leaders. While the UNGA has been the setting for several historic moments for gender equality, much has yet to be achieved regarding women’s representation and participation. Just four women have been elected President of the UN General Assembly in its 77 years.

The 15-member UN Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. While women currently represent slightly over a third of the Security Council’s members — far higher than the average — it is still far from enough. Explore the participation of women at the Security Council.

Women and global diplomacy

Women, as we all know, are realists, but they are also realists who, while they keep their feet on the ground, also keep their eyes on far horizons. Global norms and standards play a key role in establishing benchmarks for the international community to abide by, and for countries to implement.

See how far women have come >>