In partnership with the British High Commission and House of Representatives, AIPFE Cyprus-Women of Europe recently organised a thought-provoking discussion with Dr Jennifer Cassidy on ‘The Gender of Diplomacy’. The event took place on September 28 at the House of the Citizen, under the auspices of Speaker of the House of Representatives of Cyprus Annita Demetriou.
“The empowerment of women in political life requires that women can reach the decision-making table in greater numbers, while also ensuring that their participation is meaningful, their voices are heard and they are enabled to play an active role in shaping outcomes,” said Dr Cassidy, a lecturer in International Relations at the University of Oxford.
As a proud advocate of gender and human rights, Dr Cassidy underlined that “diplomacy itself has a gender that exhorts masculine qualities, however this conversation should not be men against women”.
AIPFE President Despina Papadopoulou welcomed a full house of guests, noting that “for 21 years, AIPFE has worked tirelessly with great passion in order to empower, motivate and connect women to sit at the table and look up towards the glass ceiling”.
In his own address, Deputy British High Commissioner Ben Rawlings said: “Diversity is a diplomatic superpower: understanding and influencing people requires different perspectives, experiences, diversity of thought and approach”.
He added that “on gender, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office has already achieved lots – female ambassadors in G7 posts plus the UN, and 40 per cent women of new recruits”, while acknowledging that “there’s a lot more we must do, but we’re moving in the right direction”.
Also addressing attendees, Member of the House of Representatives Savia Orphanidou observed that: “Women play a fundamental role in diplomacy, as in all political and social aspects”.
“I am one of the eight women MPs,” she continued, “and I know the number of women at the House of Representatives is low, but we really need to reflect and realise how much was done before to be here today, but also how much more needs to be done for women to gain the place they deserve in all areas in decision-making centres.”
The role of women in the diplomatic sphere is undeniably an ongoing discussion, one imperative for change to strengthen the rights and representation of women; the discussion shall continue for as long as it takes.