Thanks to the friendship with wonderful organization “Ukrainian Women’s Fund” I have an opportunity to meet truly inspiring people and this time they were women Ambassadors.
I was overexcited about the upcoming meeting because the Ambassador of one of my favorite countries the Kingdom of Morocco was invited to this event. So that was a day of good impressions. First of all I was surprised that the meeting was in the same building where I used to apply for a Moroccan visa. This year I’ve been there at least 4 times to support my team of W.E.Art (Women Empowerment through Art) project which we implemented in Morocco this summer.
Another thing which impressed me that much is the fact the Ambassador of Morocco is a woman! I always knew (especially after the W.E.Art project) that Moroccan women are progressive and inspiring and I`ve proved it to myself one more time.
So, here we’ve met to speak about the important issues of equal opportunities for women and men; youth movements and empowering women` leadership.
The meeting took place at the house of Argentina in Ukraine where we were hosted by Ambassador of Argentina in Ukraine Lila Roldan Vazquez de Muan.
Mrs. Lila Roldan was talking about her country and the role of women there. The first woman she`ve mentioned was Evita Peron the wife of the Argentinian president. She did a lot of very important work for the society and people said that her husband wouldn`t be a president without her support. She was inspiring for everyone. Evita was always working among the people. She thought that women should be in politics. She made it possible for women to vote in 1947.
In 1991 Argentina accepted the law of quota, which says that at least 30% of women have to be at the government.
Mrs. Lila Roldan was dreaming to become a diplomat from her early ages. When she was 6, she said to her parents that she is going to be a diplomat. She entered university to earn lawyer degree, because she to her mind that was the easiest way to achieve her dream.
When she passed a test to diplomacy, they asked her, what she is going to do when she will get married. She said that has no idea, cos she might go down this staircase and fall in love forever and live happily ever after, but maybe she will never meet her fate, so she doesn’t know. Mrs. Lila was impressed why they didn’t ask this question to her men colleagues…
When Mrs. Lila started to occupy the position of Ambassador she was the only women an Ambassador among 9 people.
She didn’t want to get into diplomacy because of the quota for women, she wants to be better than others – to fit the position she wants.
“You have to fight for the conditions of your job. To achieve the same positions as your colleagues you don’t need to be equal, you have to be better…” – that was the words her adviser told to young diplomat Lila Roldan.
She got married in her 30th. First Mrs. Lila decided to work on her career, than on her family. Her husband is supporting and following her.
Her son was grown up in Argentina, cos she wants to let him know their family, grannies, cousins, and others.
Mrs. Lila shared her experience with us and empowered us with her believe in today`s generation with her own observation as Ukrainian ladies are beautiful, but they are beautiful not only by appearance but also inside. Also she said that we have to show this to the world, that we are clever, educated, and responsible for the whole family. Ukrainian ladies are good enough to keep the future in your hands.
Ambassador of Lebanon Mrs Claude Hajal Demashkieh shared with us the development of women diplomacy in Lebanon where previously if she is unmarried and under 35 a woman could apply to become a diplomat in Lebanon. Currently the restriction of unmarried women is cancelled, so even married lady could apply to join the diplomacy corps.
The system of getting involved into diplomacy work is as follows: 2 years as training before start working abroad in ministry of foreign affairs in Lebanon; after this diplomat can work 7 years abroad and come back to Lebanon to work for 2 years again.
Now there are 20% of women in the diplomatic institution are working as diplomats. Mrs. Claude Hajal was working as Ambassador in such places as Paris, London, and Geneva. She started to work in 1994 and met her husband there who is also diplomat. The first Embassy where Mrs. Hajal was posted is in Jordan. She was placed according to her family conditions.
She is an exception of the common rules, cos she never was working abroad for 7 years. For instance Mrs. Claude was working as a Consular in Egypt for 3 years, after Egypt she gave birth to a baby girl and her husband became an ambassador in Berlin. She made a decision to keep the family instead of increasing the carrier and took 4 sabbatical years to save the family. That means no salary, no promotion, etc…
Combining work and family sometimes is quite tricky. You can’t work in the same Embassy, but on the neighborhood countries and this is not easy for many of people.
Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco Ms. Mina Tunsi shared with us the story of her way and inspiration of becoming an Ambassador, which she considers as a funny story.
In her early ages Mrs. Mina Tunsi was dreaming about becoming an Ambassador, but she didn’t even know why. In 1956 Morocco got independence. The 1st Princess gave a great speech in the city of Tangier. It was something unbelievable when the first princes appeared in public with uncovered head and wearing European dress. She became the first woman in Morocco who made the public speech. She was talking in French, Arabic and English to keep fighting for liberalization of the country and for the women role in this movement. She became the first Arab women ambassador in the UK and after – Italia. Everyone was talking how educated she was, beautiful, smart… Her personality made a great impression to little Mrs. Mina, who was dreaming to became an Ambassador. That was the time she understood clearly that she can’t be a princes, but for ambassador – yes! Her parents where laughing at her dream… But after finishing her study, the first job was of course in the ministry of foreign affairs. Mrs. Mina Tunsi applied to become an ambassador and that’s why she is here now. Currently there are 38% of women in the diplomatic corpus in Morocco: 12 ambassadors, general consuls, diplomats.
In 2004 the new family code which gives more rights to women and start developing more dynamic society was accepted in Morocco. That was a huge step into building gender equality.
Nowadays there are more and more Moroccan women are achieving top positions. The Counselor of the King is a woman. 35% of politicians are women. Many of the women are involved in the private sector. But they are still fighting for the gender equality.
“If you want something – you’ll get it. Keep your dream in mind work for it and don’t give up” – said Mrs. Mina to us.
Ambassador of Portugal Mrs. Maria Cristina Almeida, told us the story that her father was diplomat and also he was a feminist. He thought that her daughter could do whatever she wants. In 1974 Portugal was in dictatorship mostly run by men. Women can’t go to Ministry of foreign affairs, just like a service stuff and they couldn`t be married. In 1994 the revolution took place and everything changed. All the professions started to be available for women. Currently they have more women judges than men in Portugal. But they have quite few women ambassadors like 12-13 persons only.
48% of working force is women in Portugal. They have an education and they have to use it. It doesn’t mean they all want to work but in order to live comfortable life women have to work together with their husbands.
There are 50% of women working at the top-level administration, they could work well as majors, in municipalities, NGOs, voluntary service etc.
“Let’s do things, let’s change… Take the destiny of this country into your hands. Don’t think that because if this things you will miss marriage, family etc… “– said Mrs. Maria Cristina Almeida. She is married for a long time and she is happy. When she says something to her husband, he says – yes!
I think I would love to be an Ambassador. Watching those confident and beautiful women I wish to imagine myself on one of those places as an Ambassador of our lovely Ukraine. I might be a good candidate to represent our culture and traditions as well as positive attitude of Ukrainians.
So how to become a diplomat and what is needed to occupy this position?
We asked the Ambassadors few questions which could help to describe the portrait of beginner diplomat:
1) At what age you have started the diplomatic career?
Mrs. Maria Cristina Almeida (Portugal) – at 25 years;
Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco Ms. Mina Tunsi started her work at 26-27 years old.
Ambassador of Lebanon Mrs Claude Hajal – at 26 years.
2) To your mind, which personal characteristics helped you to get the position you occupies now. There are some advises which the Ambassadors shared with us:
– You have to write well, the text should be well written and meaningful. It has to be structured. This is a very important thing;
– If you have economics, lawyer, psychology, sociology degree you have more chances to enter the diplomatic academy;
– Dream! Work more than men, be ready to take challenge of being first woman. Don’t let men tell you: “you are woman, you are weak, so you could go home, etc… this work is not for you…”;
– Make a man your partner, not someone who depends on you;
– Work hard and be tough;
– Take your not boring job, be dynamic and work on your creative ideas.