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We must all do everything possible to ensure women are at the table, our voices heard, and our contributions valued.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed
Historically, diplomacy has been the preserve of men. Women have played a critical role in diplomacy for centuries, yet their contributions have often been overlooked. It’s time to recognize and celebrate the ways in which women are breaking barriers and making a difference in the field of diplomacy. As of 2014, 143 countries guaranteed equality between men and women in their constitutions; another 52 countries have yet to make this important commitment. Advocating for increased representation of women in key decision-making positions will greatly shape and implement multilateral agendas.
Between 1992 and 2019, women represented 13٪ of negotiators, 6٪ of mediators, and 6٪ of signatories in peace processes worldwide. Gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls will also contribute to progress across all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets. The systematic mainstreaming of a gender perspective in implementing the 2030 Agenda is crucial, especially since SDG 5 calls for women’s equal participation in decision-making.
At the UNGA’s 76th Session, the General Assembly, by consensus, declared the 24th of June each year to be the International Day of Women in Diplomacy. By the resolution (A/RES/76/269), the Assembly invited all Member States, United Nations organizations, non-governmental groups, academic institutions, and associations of women diplomats — where they exist — to observe the Day in a manner that each considers most appropriate, including through education and public awareness-raising.
Why Women Matter in Diplomacy
Women have been playing a crucial role in global governance since the drafting and signing of the United Nations Charter in 1945. Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. Women bring immense benefits to diplomacy. Their leadership styles, expertise, and priorities broaden the scope of issues under consideration and the quality of outcomes.
Research shows that when women serve in cabinets and parliaments, they pass better laws and policies for ordinary people, the environment, and social cohesion. Advancing measures to increase women’s participation in peace and political processes is vital to achieving women’s de facto equality in the context of entrenched discrimination.
Out of the 193 Member States of the United Nations, only 34 women serve as elected Heads of State or Government. Whilst progress has been made in many countries, the global proportion of women in other levels of political office worldwide still has far to go: 21% of the world’s ministers, 26% of national parliamentarians, and 34% of elected seats of local government. According to a new UN report, at the current pace of progress, equal representation in parliament will not be achieved until 2062.
The UN General Assembly (UNGA) is the world’s largest yearly meeting of world leaders. While the UNGA has been the setting for several historic moments for gender equality, much has yet to be achieved regarding women’s representation and participation. Just four women have been elected President of the UN General Assembly in its 77 years.
The 15-member UN Security Council is primarily responsible for maintaining international peace and security. While women currently represent slightly over a third of the Security Council’s members — far higher than the average — it is still far from enough. Explore the participation of women at the Security Council.
Inclusive governance can result in policies that create positive change over the long term.
- There are 31 countries where 34 women serve as Heads of State and/or Government as of January 2023.
- Of the five United Nations-led or co-led peace processes in 2021, two were led by women mediators, and all five consulted with civil society and were provided with gender expertise.
- In 2022, the Security Council held its first-ever formal meeting focusing on reprisals against women participating in peace and security processes.
- In multilateral disarmament forums, wide gaps persist in women’s participation and women remain grossly underrepresented in many weapons-related fields, including technical arms control – only 12٪ of Ministers of Defense globally are women.
- Countries with more women in the legislative and executive branches of government have less defense spending and more social spending.