WEDIN EU: The European External Action Service and the Belgian FPS Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation celebrate the International Day of Women in Diplomacy

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Two years ago, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming the 24th of June as the International Day of Women in Diplomacy. This resolution was cosponsored by an historic number of 191 members, showing the overwhelming support of the international community and a collective commitment to achieving gender equality.

For the third time, the “WomEn DIplomats Network in the European Union” (WEDIN EU) reconvened the 27 EU Member States for their annual gathering. This year, on the occasion of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the “Women at the European External Action Service” network (WEEAS) joined forces with the “Women at Work” network (W@W) of the Belgian FPS Foreign Affairs, to co-host the event.

This annual meeting offered an opportunity for women diplomats from EU Member States and the EEAS, including leaders of networks of Member States’ Ministries for Foreign Affairs, to exchange best practices to facilitate women diplomats’ careers and discuss the important role of women in diplomacy, and more broadly the promotion of gender equality in the world.

The gathering took place today at the Belgian Foreign Public Service (FPS) Foreign Affairs and was opened by its Secretary General Theodora Gentzis and the new WEEAS Chair Angelina Eichhorst.

Theodora Gentzis, Secretary General of the FPS Foreign Affairs: “This is what the International Day of Women in Diplomacy is about: a day to recognize and celebrate the ways in which we, as women, are making a difference in the field of diplomacy. A day to reflect on the advances we have made, the obstacles we still face and the actions that can be taken at various levels to achieve our full equal, effective and meaningful participation.

This year’s keynote speaker was former Irish diplomat Dr. Jennifer Cassidy, lecturer in International Relations at the University of Oxford and Editor of the book ‘Gender and Diplomacy’. The event also counted on the participation of the Folke Bernadotte Academy, who presented a training session on ‘Countering Resistance’.

Hadja Lahbib, Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Affairs and Foreign Trade, and the EEAS Secretary General Stefano Sannino, closed the event.

Hadja Lahbib, Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Affairs and Foreign Trade: “Belgium is strongly committed to gender equality. We can say that we have a feminist foreign policy as we promote equality and human rights of all women and girls in all our foreign policy efforts. But diplomacy needs to reflect the society it serves, and that means mirroring our society’s gender balance. And that’s why we need forums like this: to meet up, to exchange ideas, learn from each other, and drive change.

Now in its third year running, the WomEn DIplomats Network reaffirms the European Union and the EEAS’ strong commitment to the promotion of diversity and gender equality in the world, as well as the transformative potential of women in diplomacy.
 

Background  


The “Women in the European External Action Service” (WEEAS) network was created by former EEAS Secretary General Helga Schmid, back in 2013, under the authority of the then High Representative Catherine Ashton. It aimed at providing a platform for the exchange of information, experiences and ideas among women professionals in the EEAS. In 2021, WEEAS started linking up with networks of women diplomats in EU Member States and created the “WomEn DIplomats Network in the European Union” (WEDIN EU). Since 2022, all networks gather annually evaluating their activities and reporting on the progress made accordingly.

”Women at Work” (W@W) is an informal network established in 2017, initially aimed at advocating for more female ambassadors within the Belgian FPS Foreign Affairs. Today, the network includes colleagues from both external and internal careers, as well as men who serve as powerful allies. It is dedicated to promoting and defending gender equality and inclusiveness within the FPS Foreign Affairs. W@W collaborates closely with the senior management and the human resources department.
 

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