Challenges Faced by Women Ambassadors in Diplomacy

INSPIRING INCLUSIVITY Women ambassadors take center stage at The Manila Times Women’s Circle forum held on Thursday, March 14, 2024. In photo are Janina Lorelei, host; Tessa Mauricio-Arriola, TMT Lifestyle and Entertainment Editor; Blanca Mercado, TMT president and COO; British Ambassador Laurie Beaufils; Swedish Ambassador Annika Thunborg; French Ambassador Marie Fontanel; Singaporean Ambassador Constance See; Romanian Ambassador Raduta Matache; and Dante ‘Klink’ Ang 2nd, chairman and CEO of The Manila Times. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA
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Challenges Faced by Female Ambassadors in Balancing Family and Career

Being an ambassador is a prestigious and demanding job that requires dedication, diplomacy, and the ability to navigate complex international relations. However, for female ambassadors, there are additional challenges that they must face in order to pursue their careers while also balancing family life.

The ambassadors of France, Romania, Singapore, Sweden, and the United Kingdom to the Philippines recently shared their experiences and insights at the Manila Times Women’s Circle Forum. French Ambassador Marie Fontanel, Romanian Ambassador Raduta Dana Matache, Singaporean Ambassador Constance See, Swedish Ambassador Annika Thunborg, and British Ambassador Laure Beaufils discussed the challenges they have encountered in their roles as diplomats.

These ambassadors expressed their gratitude to the women leaders who came before them and paved the way for their success in the field of diplomacy. They acknowledged the efforts of their predecessors in fighting for the emancipation of women and recognized that the battle for gender equality is an ongoing one.

Overcoming Gender Discrimination in Diplomacy

One of the challenges that these female ambassadors highlighted is the issue of gender discrimination. Ambassador Matache acknowledged that gender discrimination is universal and not limited to any specific country or culture. She emphasized the importance of continuing the fight for gender equality and the need for women to confront these challenges on a daily basis.

Ambassador Beaufils shared her personal experience of facing discrimination in her career. She recalled instances where she was referred to as “sweetheart” or “darling” by male colleagues. She highlighted the difficult position that women find themselves in when confronted with such situations, where they must decide how to respond to authority figures who hold power over them.

Ambassador Fontanel also shared her experience of being objectified based on her appearance when she was younger. She acknowledged that while her generation may have it easier than previous generations of women in pursuing a career in diplomacy, there are still challenges to be overcome.

The Balancing Act: Family and Career

Another significant challenge faced by female ambassadors is the delicate balance between their professional and personal lives. Ambassador Fontanel highlighted the difficulties of juggling a demanding career with the responsibilities of being a parent and having other personal commitments.

Ambassador See, from Singapore, emphasized the personal decisions that women in diplomacy often have to make. She spoke about the challenges of finding a partner who is willing to travel and relocate every few years, as well as the guilt that comes with not being able to spend enough time with one’s children.

Ambassador Thunborg, from Sweden, noted that while there were more women than men in her generation entering the foreign service, this was a result of the opportunities created by previous generations of women. She acknowledged the progress that has been made but emphasized that there is still work to be done in achieving true gender equality.

Overall, the experiences and insights shared by these female ambassadors shed light on the challenges faced by women in the field of diplomacy. They serve as a reminder that gender discrimination and the struggle for work-life balance are universal issues that require ongoing efforts to address. Despite the challenges, these ambassadors continue to pave the way for future generations of women in diplomacy, inspiring others to pursue their dreams and make a difference on the international stage.

Source: The Manila Times

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