Daily Diplomacy: A Discussion with Women Ambassadors
Time and Place
On Tuesday, May 16th, the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) hosted the Public Leadership Education Network's (PLEN) first Daily Diplomacy: A Discussion with Women Ambassadors. Through this event, young women had the opportunity to learn from women leaders, but also to meet them and to develop their networking skills.
WPSP is proud to support this initiative, as fostering young women leadership is essential to achieve gender parity. The participating students, representing the future women in international policy, heard stories and advice from Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and the first woman to be U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, and H.E. Ambassador Hassana Alidou, Ambassador from Niger to the United States. The event was moderated by Luiza Savage, Editorial Director for Events at POLITICO Live, with introductory comments from Gwen K. Young, Director of the Global Women's Leadership Initiative and Women in Public Service Project.
Gwen K. Young, Luiza Savage, Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield, and H.E. Ambassador Hassana Alidou.
During this discussion, the women ambassadors spoke about their extensive experience working in the highest positions within the foreign policy sphere. Through this moderated Q&A session, the audience got an inside look into the professional lives, skills, and experiences of some of the most powerful women policymakers in the international field.
"Of the 4,600 ambassadors who have represented the United States in foreign countries, only nine percent have been women", noted Gwen K. Young as she opened the discussion.
"You do get treated differently as a women, and you have to be conscious of that all the time, when you walked in rooms", said Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield. The former Ambassador to Liberia remembered: "I have walked into a room with a male colleague from Washington, and people would assume that he was the ambassador. Well, I love it, I just sit back and watch it. I decided a long time ago that I was never going to take these things personally. If they want to talk to my colleague for 20 minutes about what the ambassador think, and then discover that this person is not the ambassador, that their problem, not mine. I had fun watching it."
H.E. Ambassador Hassana Alidou also swept aside this sexist representation, urging all women in the audience to "consider that you are as capable as any person". However, you also have to be aware of that environment and to deal with it, explained the Ambassador from Niger: "Through my career, I had to be the leader of a male team. You are breaking the stereotypes, and it is not easy for the other side. So you have to understand that for the people you lead, this situation is totally new, and be aware of how they accept female leadership."
H.E. Ambassador Hassana Alidou, Ambassador from Niger to the United States.
Nicknamed "People's Ambassador", Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield also shared the key of her success: "getting to know people, showing that I care about them." She highlighted the fact that searching for a mentor doesn't necessarily means looking for someone older than you or in a higher position: "Your best mentor is the person like you, which experience the same things as you," she said.
Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield, Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.
By Amelie Petitdemange, WPSP Intern