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Ambassador Nirupama Menon Rao is a retired Indian diplomat, Foreign Secretary and Ambassador. She was India’s first woman spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, the first woman high commissioner from her country to Sri Lanka, and the first Indian woman ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. She served as India’s Foreign Secretary as well as India’s Ambassador to the United States.

In recent decades, researchers have looked into factors driving - or hindering - gender parity across countries. In particular, studies have found electoral systems to be among the strongest predictors of women’s electoral success.

The Women in Public Service Project welcomes Dr. Sumera Haque as the newest member of our Advisory Council. The WPSP Advisory Council provides advice and guidance to the WPSP Director and the Board of Directors on strategy and issues in their individual areas of expertise, in keeping with the goals and initiatives of WPSP. As a member of the Advisory Council, Dr. Haque will offer her much-needed leadership and perspective in elevating the status of women and girls, particularly through education and health.

While across the board exist sharp differences in operation, structure, and regulation, gender diversity and women’s empowerment emerge as two of the shared values embraced by both public and private sectors. Yet, the numbers tell us high representation of women in one sector might not transfer to other sectors in a country.

The Women in Public Service Project is pleased to release a toolkit by Wilson Center Distinguished Fellow and former President of Malawi, Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda.  Building on the recommendations in her policy paper "From Day One: An Agenda for Advancing Women Leaders in Africa," the toolkit is designed to inspire and provide examples of how policymakers, civil society organizations, community leaders, and the international community can work together to develop a critical mass of women leaders in political positions across Africa to ensure good governance and economic stability, and greater stability overall.

Public administration is the foundation of functioning government. Civil servants plan, prepare, and execute the policies that impact the daily lives of the citizens they serve. Historically, women have played a significant role in the civil service due to factors such as lower barriers to entry, job security, and cultural norms. Data from 111 countries reveals 45 of those studied have reached parity or majority representation in civil service positions. Yet a closer look at where women are within the civil service tells a familiar story: women are less likely to be serving in decision-making positions than men.