Cyprus Mail

Student gets to be High Commissioner for a day

A 17-year-old Cypriot student shadowed the British High Commissioner for a day after her essay on equal opportunities in education won a recent competition.

Danae Xanthi was a welcomed by the British High Commissioner Stephen Lillie in the context of promoting gender equality and female leadership, according to the High Commission in Nicosia.

Xanthi was given the opportunity to get “a taste of what it is like to be a top diplomat”.

“Today has been a great opportunity for me to share a slice of my work with a young woman from Cyprus, and hopefully inspire her to think big about what she can achieve in the world,” Lillie said on Monday, when Xanthi visited.

Xanthi entered the British High Commission’s competition to mark International Women’s Day, winning the prize to shadow the High Commissioner for a day.

Entrants were asked to write a short essay about what they would change in the world or in their community if they worked in international diplomacy.

It was a busy day for the 17-year-old, which included a number of meetings.

Xanthi met visiting UK secretary of state for defence Penny Mordaunt, who also serves as minister for women and equality, and took part in a photo call in Mordaunt’s meeting with Cyprus defence minister Savvas Angelides.

Mordaunt also took the opportunity to offer the 17-year-old some personal advice and experience on women in leadership.

Lillie and Xanthi later met the special representative to the UN Secretary General Elizabeth Spehar to discuss the role of women in peace building and peacekeeping in Cyprus.

Spehar also gave the teenager some leadership tips: “Never sell yourself short, and a woman doesn’t have to lead like a man, but with her own experience, instinct and style,” she told Xanthi.

Additionally, the pair met with gender equality adviser at the ministry of foreign affairs Josie Christodoulou and with members of Mediterranean women mediators network.

Lillie said that no country can truly flourish if half of its population is left behind – that’s why the UK government is committed to achieving gender equality at home and abroad.

“We believe this is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. I am also keen to engage more with the young people of Cyprus, the next generation of leaders, during my tenure and opportunities such as this are a great way to do that.”

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