Prof. Dr. Elif Vatanoğlu-Lutz, founder of Oksitosin Medicine and Art Platform, expressed her concerns with WOMEN in DIPLOMACY COMMITTEE of FICAC

June 16, 2020 | Women Committee

1- How we analyze the contribution of women honorary consuls in diplomatic life?

Can a woman be a diplomat? This might seem an odd question in the 21st century, when women can be astronauts, business executives, media tycoons or anything else they set their mind to. But in the first half of the 20th century, the capacity of a woman to represent her nation overseas was a topic of hot debate. Feminists clamoured for equality, while the traditional minds warned that the appointment of female diplomats would endanger prestige abroad.

So what accounts for women’s late arrival on the diplomatic scene? Most professions grudgingly opened their doors following women’s enfranchisement at the first decade of the 20’th century, but others, diplomacy is one of them, held out, jealously defending their masculine privileges. Diplomacy, it was argued before various official committees in the 1930s, presented a special case because national interests were at stake. The purported risks of sending female representatives overseas were threefold. The first concern was the effect on foreign governments; how would they react to doing business with a woman? One British official commented in 1934 that they would “probably look upon it as rather a bad joke,” while his colleague predicted worse: foreigners, he argued, “would probably feel that they themselves were not being taken sufficiently seriously for being asked to receive her.” In either case, efforts to promote global interests would suffer. (1)

The second perceived risk concerned the physical stresses of overseas service, especially in the rougher, consular wing, where officers were posted to seedy port towns or remote places cut off from civilisation. Women, it was claimed, were too delicate or squeamish to withstand the strains of the consular life.

Finally, opponents of women’s admission pointed to the problems of marital status. A spinster diplomat would be bad value compared to a married man who came with a wife in tow, while a female officer with a husband was simply unthinkable.

The role played by women in diplomacy between , both as serving officers and as diplomatic spouses, has to date received little attention from historians. For example, between 1919 and 1922 the role of women in the clandestine Irish foreign service was pronounced.. In many countries,the number of female diplomats dramatically increased had few female diplomats after the removal of the marriage bar in the early 1970s.(eg. Britain,Ireland) (2)

General attitudes towards women in the Foreign Services in the World only began to change dramatically because of unprecedented personnel needs during World War II, beginning in 1940. Through the 1920s and 1930s, many diplomatic officials remained unconvinced that women could serve as effective, professional male diplomatic representatives in the wider world. Women in a professional and official diplomatic capacity, they believed, would be unable to engage with others in the traditional practices of diplomacy. For example the U.S. Foreign Service establishment did not want the U.S. represented to the world as an agent of change regarding traditional gender roles. (1)

In the last decades, there were, nonetheless, some men still committed to defending the masculine status . It was heard from many suggesting that women were ‘less objective than men, less capable of keeping secrets, less good at teamwork, more liable to allow authority to go to their heads and more prone to let enthusiasm run away with them’. Some said that ‘women would not be acceptable leaders’ in the ‘bloody and unpleasant’ situations in which his career had involved him. Some thought that women’s perceived unfitness for so-called hardship posts would lead to frustration at their being offered supposedly ‘easier’ jobs. The complaints that women were emotionally, intellectually or physically inferior to men were far from new. (2)

This topic of female consuls remind me of the situation of female surgeons. Research reveals that in an old boys’ network, exclusion from events, scepticism from patients and incompatibility with family life are among the factors fuelling a dearth of women in surgery. (3)

There is a culture in the world that basically discourages females to pursue this career of being a surgeon .Visibility of senior women in the profession is a key factor. I strongly believe that you cannot be what you cannot see. Also lack of support during pregnancy is another issue in the situation of being a woman surgeon.

Despite all these oppositions in the past for both of these career patterns, having women in surgery and diplomacy, it is wonderful to see that nowadays we see women everywhere.

Analysis the contribution of women honorary consuls in diplomatic life

One of the biggest advantages of Women in Diplomacy is Diversity.

Diversity—from gender diversity to culture, age, and race—has been shown to foster creativity and innovation. Mnay organizations in the world across industries are seeking to prioritize and benefit from a diverse and inclusive work environment.Men and women will inevitably have different experiences and backgrounds, which shape their approach to Diplomacy. Challenging each other and collaborating with people who think differently can breed creativity and promote the innovative ideas that push diplomatic relations forward.

Diplomacy traditionally dealt with Economy and trade and with Geological power struggles. Diplomacy nowadays as much has to deal with social and human rights issues and the composition of the Diplomatic Corps needs to allow for this, hence a more diverse set of Diplomats also giving room for mothers to contribute is important.

While technical skill and knowledge are fundamental to career success in every field, we see soft skills as the most desirable professional attributes.

Although characteristics like effective communication, empathy, and self-awareness are difficult to measure, they are highly valued and can make a real difference to the bottom line. Soft skills and emotional intelligence may prove a key competitive advantage for Women in Diplomacy.. These competencies included emotional self-awareness, empathy, conflict management, adaptability, and teamwork—all essential skills for effective leadership in the Diplomacy.

Women in Diplomacy is a wonderful opportunity to overcome gender bias.

The women who are in or want to position themselves for diplomacy roles often feel they come under particular scrutiny. Where men may be encouraged to be ambitious or assertive, women are programed from a young age not to be “bossy”. Underlying gender bias means the same behavior and characteristics—initiative, passion, and taking charge—can be interpreted differently in men and women in the diplomacy.

Gender equality and Inclusivity become visible.

For many of forward-thinking diplomatic sevrices , gender equality is becoming a matter of policy, whether it’s committing to equal representation of women in the diplomatic boards or hiring diversity officers.

Discouraging and circumventing bias through hiring policy can help diplomatic organizations to reap the benefits of balance and equality. Rather than political correctness or buzzwords, if diversity, inclusiveness, and gender equality become policy and are embedded in diplomatic strategy, diplomatic organizations thrive.

Making a commitment to things like equitable gender representation, inclusive culture, and work-life balance—including maternity and paternity benefits—also help diplomatic services to attract top talent..

Women are natural multi-taskers.

With more women becoming diplomats we will see startups growing at a much faster rate, as more things get done in a working day. This ability combined with their people skills will put women in a very unique position in the Diplomacy world where they are able to not only grow their career with good people and execution skills, but they would also be able to inspire more women like themselves to become Diplomatas changing the landscape of the Diplomacy world.

Women do Diplomacy differently than men.

There is no hard / toxic competition because we are connecting with each other on a higher and more individualistic and empathetic level. Women are carving out space for themselves as Diplomats and we see that not only is there room for more than one at the table, but that the table keeps growing and growing to accommodate women who work hard, show up consistently and offer value to the world.

2- How can we add value to the world through a strategy by improving the status, responsibilities, rights, and securities of Women diplomats?

Initiatives that strengthen the pipeline of women to political office can amplify women’s political voice and ensure that policymaking at all levels—local, state, and federal—addresses issues of concern to women. Such initiatives include expanding diplomacy trainings for women, asking and encouraging women to run for office, educating the public about the reality of “campaigning-while-female,” encouraging women’s organizations to get involved in electing more women to diplomatic offices , and holding diplomatic services accountable for supporting and promoting women candidates.

Right approach can help women stay in their diplomatic roles and advance by enacting policies such as paid family leave and paid medical leave, paid sick days, and schedule predictability.

Policies should ensure that laws and regulations fully reflect the needs of women in Diplomacy with caregiving responsibilities, including pregnant women, parents, and caregivers of elderly parents or other adult family members. We can develop policies to require fair work scheduling practices. We can also provide technical assistance and information to women on innovative working time and scheduling arrangements to improve work-life balance.

Increased enforcement of existing policies to promote women’s safety and the enactment of new statutes can help to ensure that women in Diplomacy can live free from violence, harassment, stalking, and abuse.

We can take steps such as creating a more comprehensive approach to protect women in Diplomacy from gun violence, continuing to support funding streams that provide essential services and supports for violence at workplace (mobbing) , and raising awareness about sexual violence at work and strategies for addressing it. Improved data collection on women’s experiences in business and diplomatic life with violence and abuse would help researchers and policymakers develop a more complete understanding of the challenges women face and solutions to address them

Investing in data collection and studies to produce consistent and reliable quantitative country-by-country estimates on key indicators related to women’s safety in Diplomacy. Information disaggregated by race and ethnicity, is essential to pinpointing the greatest threats to safety for women, reducing violence and abuse, and holding perpetrators accountable.

3- How do you see the status of women diplomats in the next decade?

We can applaud and laud the work success of these women in Diplomacy and hope all people learn from their wisdom and achievements. Indeed, some of these women are personal heroes to many women who are striving for their success in Diplomacy.

I see the future of women in Diplomacy only continuing to increase. Although many think that the corporate world is not built for most women, I am very hopeful for the future. Females are more collaborative and less competitive generally speaking. We communicate differently and this can be challenging when you are in the minority. In some environments where women are expected to dress and act like men, and I saw happily some women refuse to do that. If a woman in Diplomatic Life or the Business world likes wearing colorful clothes and high heels, she should continue to do so. She should not change the way she talks or communicates to fit a certain mold.

The future for women in Diplomacy is wide open. Quoting Beyonce: Who run the world? Girls!

Also,the role of Women in Seljukian times is a wonderful inspiration point for me. We see women going to the war or leading the whole country while breastfeeding their babies at the same time. This is a proud example from our history and culture. This can be a fascinating example for the future of Women in Diplomacy. (4)

We can say with full confidence that as women join various industries as business owners and leaders and also they take their place in Diplomacy, many others are inspired to do the same. It is indubitably a Herculean effort to breach the diplomacy world successfully, especially as a woman. I as many other female consuls, academicians , entrepreneurs, have had to leap over a profusion of professional hurdles. However, I think the challenges we undergo, such as rampant sexism and bias, make us infinitely stronger. This speaks to the future of women diplomats ; they will continue to strengthen and become even better in our respective fields. If we, as women leaders, allow ourselves to learn from and embrace our shortcomings and tribulations, we will be far better equipped to face competition than someone who has never looked failure or defeat in the eye and continued on.

This world definitely needs more women diplomats. I believe that the gap between men/women in Diplomacy will reduce significantly . I am very happy to see the continuous increase of women in the Diplomacy who are setting the bar high, making a name for themselves and showing the world that you don’t have to choose between having a family and having a successful career. It’s been great to see how many men have stepped up to the plate and shared parenting and household responsibility in order to allow their significant other to dedicate time to their career and grow successful names in Diplomacy.

Women Diplomats will grow and inspire more women. All indicators point to more women Diplomats on the horizon. Women for a long time seem to have always been conditioned to compete with one another, however, I feel that now this is no longer the case. Female Diplomats are not only collaborating with one another more than ever in order to grow their careers and themselves, but also coming together creating communities of learning and leadership to expand the network of women in Diplomacy. I think that the future of women diplomats will consist of continuing this growth, no longer having fear in showing how their success was made but instead of raising others up to be diplomats themselves.

Also,it is wonderful to see that there is even more collaboration between LGBTQ Diplomats. , it is fascinating to me that the LGBTQ community in the Diplomacy has gone from being vulnerable and in the shadows in 1989 to being celebrated in 2015 when there was a Panel of LGBTQ Ambassadors at the annual Leadership Conference in Britain. That change in policy in the Diplomacy also reflects changes in legislations in many Europe countries , from the lifting of the ban on serving as a British diplomat to the enactment of civil partnerships and same-sex marriage. (5)

4- What do you think the focus points should be of our strategy to strengthen Women in Diplomacy?

Women in Diplomacy should raise your voice more and more. Voice amplifies, directs and changes the conversation. They do not need to sit silent in meetings or conversations with colleaques when they have something to contribute to the conversation.

They should support one another Recognizing inherent dignity in oneself and all other human beings through acceptance of identities different from one’s own is very important.

They should share the responsibility of creating safe environments for vulnerability to be freely expressed. Acknowledging that their actions are crucial to the creation of fairness and accountability. First they should identify their commitments and then they can easily speak about them, and act on them.

Educating the next generation is a very important target for women in Diplomacy.

Listening actively and seeking understanding are key factors. Sharing experience and knowledge help to grow wisdom.

Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights. At their most basic, human rights concern reciprocity in human relationships that extend to all humanity and beyond. Women in Diplomacy should know their rights very well.

It takes time and effort for the gender equality conversation to reach everyone. Women in Diplomacy have a very important function to reach this aim of Gender Equality,that’s why they should be patient and consistent. No matter how ordinary, no matter how different, women confront current realities with tantalizing possibilities of dignity for all.

This is not solely a matter of the Diplomatic Service looking like the country and society women diplomats serve, important as that is, especially in an organisation whose role centres around representing the country to the world. It is about championing – and being seen around the world actually to live – the values, and create the opportunities that allow societies to prosper and thrive and enable their people to pursue their life goals. We shouldn’t take this for granted – progress is not always relentless. This is why in today’s wolrd of Diplomacy, they are stretching their targets, for recruitment and for entry into the senior structures, and building more effective pipelines to bring women through. Women in Diplomacy are entitled to safety, inclusion, and fairness, and they will have them. .

Diplomacy traditionally dealt with Economy and trade and with Geological power struggles. Diplomacy nowadays as much has to deal with social and human rights issues and the composition of the Diplomatic Corps needs to allow for this, hence a more diverse set of Diplomats also giving room for mothers to contribute is important.


Aggestam K .The gender turn in diplomacy: a new research agenda. Journal International Feminist Journal of Politics. Special Section: Feminist Perspectives on Diplomacy Volume 21, 2019 – Issue 1

Wright H. Can a Woman Be a Diplomat? The North American Review .Vol. 248, No. 1 (Autumn, 1939), pp. 100-108

3)Leon SL, Del Valle CA, Salceda AH, Villegas-Pichardo LO, Scosyrev E. Medical Careers and Motherhood: A Cross-Sectional Study of Hispanic Female Physicians. 1) J Grad Med Educ. 2019 Aug;11(4 Suppl):181-185.

4)Tekin BB. Women Status In Seljuk Culture. Turkish Studies , International Periodical For The Languages, Literature and History of Turkish Culture, Volume 9/10 Fall 2014, p. 991-1008.

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