Women diplomats from various geographies expressed the need for gender equality in global diplomatic roles at the inaugural BRICS CCI WE, Trailblazers Dialogues Roundtable on Global Women Diplomats: Breaking Barriers; Shaping Global Affairs held in the capital.
Women diplomats at BRICS CCI WE Trailblazers Dialogues
BRICS CCI WE represents the women’s vertical of The BRICS Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BRICS CCI) which promotes commerce and industry in the BRICS and other friendly nations. The Vertical focuses on women empowerment initiatives and policies across geographies.
Historically, diplomacy has been the preserve of men. However, research shows that when women have a seat at the table, the odds of reducing instability and conflict improve significantly. The results of the 2023 Women in Diplomacy Index suggest that women remain underrepresented in ambassadorship positions across the world with only around 20% of all ambassadors being women in 2023. Between 1992 and 2019, women represented a mere 13 percent of negotiators, 6 percent of mediators, and 6 percent of signatories in peace processes worldwide. The numbers are even lower in conflict-affected states where women have been quasi-absent from peace processes.
While greeting the gathering, Dr. BBL Madhukar, Director General, BRICS CCI, highlighted the importance of providing equal opportunity to women in education and representation. Dr. Madhukar stated “In a rapidly changing world, diplomacy stands as the cornerstone of international relations, shaping the course of nations and the trajectory of global affairs. However, one critical dimension remains underrepresented in the diplomatic arena: the influential voices of women. As women gain power, societal barriers are removed.”
Shri R.K. Vishnoi, Chairman, BRICS CCI, as a part of his special address to the event, highlighted “The role of women in diplomacy is inevitable. People, international committees, and leadership are convinced that women bring a lot of ideas that are life changing. When women have a seat at the table, the odds of solving conflict improve significantly.”
Delivering the welcome address, Ms. Ruby Sinha, President, BRICS CCI WE said, “While recognizing the indispensable contributions women have made to diplomacy throughout history, let us also collectively work towards a future where gender equality and womens empowerment are fully integrated into our diplomatic efforts.” “These discussions are especially important in a year when India is spearheading the G20 dialogues with holistic and inclusive, women-led development being a key focus area,” she added.
The Roundtable saw the participation of Ms. Hagar Spiro-Tal, Deputy Ambassador, Embassy of Israel in India; Ambassador Bizunesh Meseret, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Ethiopia; Ms. Wathsala Amarasinghe, Minister Counsellor, High Commission of Sri Lanka; Ms. Amaranta Vandeperre, Third Secretary and Counsel, Embassy of Chile; Ms. Jalpa Ratna, Chief of Field Services, United Nations Childrens Fund. The discussion was moderated by Ms. Shormishtha Ghosh, Governing Body Member, BRICS CCI. Amb. Manju Seth (Retd.), Former Ambassador & Consul General of India delivered the valedictory address.
Ms. Hagar Spiro-Tal, Deputy Ambassador, Embassy of Israel in India, appreciated BRICS CCI WE for hosting the discussion and reiterated the importance of such deliberations. Ms. Hagar said, “The journey of making a change is no less important than the achievement itself. Shaping an agenda that includes womens representation and raising awareness is critical in paving the way towards reaching gender equality. We are still facing gender-biased perceptions which require the adoption of more inclusive, proactive and tolerant approaches, sometimes even affirmative actions.”
H.E. Ms. Bizunesh Meseret, Deputy Head Of Mission, Embassy of Ethiopia, shared reports of womens representation in Ethiopia and highlighted the Government of Ethiopia’s initiatives that have resulted in increased participation of Women in Diplomacy. Ms. Meseret said, “Ethiopia has a female policy in place at both national and regional levels ensuring women empowerment in all spheres, be it political, economic or humanitarian.”
Ms. Wathsala Amarasinghe, Minister Counselor, High Commission of Sri Lanka highlighted Sri Lanka’s glorious legacy of female leadership. “In Sri Lanka, we’ve had a long tradition of democracy and great female leaders. We have free education. We elected the 1st female PM in the world in 1960, who also laid the foundation stone for the Sri Lankan High Commission in Delhi,” said Ms. Amarasinghe.
According to Ms. Amaranta Vandeperre, Third Secretary & Counsel, Embassy of Chile, “Increasing womens participation in diplomacy or in any other field is vital to achieving equality in a context of deep-rooted discrimination“. Highlighting Chile’s achievement in this area, Ms. Vandeperre noted, “Chile went from having 15% women ambassadors to 33% in the past decade.”
The round table conference saw the participation of various international & global organizations, including UNICEF. Ms Jalpa Ratna, Chief of Field Service, UNICEF spoke about the vital role of primary education of girls to ensure long-term gender equality even in diplomatic roles. Ms. Ratna also mentioned “Bal Patrakars” or “Child Reporters“, an initiative run by UNICEF in India empowering students from classes 6 to 8 to spread awareness of child rights in their communities and take the issues affecting them directly to the Chief Minister of their respective states.
Amb. Manju Seth, Former Ambassador & Consul General of India in her Valedictory Address put forth her desire for a day when the talk for gender equality is no longer a topic of discussion. Ms. Seth urged men to come forward to empower women in all fields, including diplomacy.
Bringing the inaugural Trailblazers Dialogues- Round Table Discussion to its successful conclusion, Ms. Shabana Nasim, Executive Director, BRICS CCI and Chief Patron, BRICS CCI WE delivered the Vote of Thanks for the day.