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Women in Diplomacy – Inclusion of women an essential part of democracy, says Terzi

Women’s entry to diplomacy is an “unstoppable trend” and “their success in the international field must act as an inspiration for public sector organisations and private sector companies”. These were the words of the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, in his message to Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi on the occasion of the international conference on “Women in Diplomacy”. The Head of State gave a welcoming address to Under-Secretary Marta Dassù, who promoted the event, and all participants.

In opening the conference, Minister Terzi underscored that “the inclusion of women is necessary not just to achieving progress, in the most liberal and democratic sense, in society, but also to its security. […] Decision-making processes where women are absent or marginalised lose political legitimacy because they fail to take into account the sensibilities, experience and outlook of an essential component of society. As a result, society is deprived of energies that are vital to its reconciliation, stability and cohesion”, added Terzi. He explained that “our goal is to increase an awareness of the need for greater participation by women in global governance, starting with diplomacy, and to promote training and education for women”.

Women’s rights and stability are linked

The protection of women and their rights should also, and above all, be stressed in relation to the Arab Spring movements. “The close connection between women’s rights and stability, inclusion and reconstruction is the compass that guides our support for the transition processes now under way”, said Terzi. “We expect the new Arab leaderships to respect women’s rights in constitutions and in political and social life, because women were protagonists in the Arab Spring”. They marched in the streets and turned out in mass for the first elections in their countries.

With the Arab Spring, “the wall of fear has fallen, for men but also for women”, said the Deputy Speaker of the Senate, Emma Bonino. She said she had confidence in the changes taking place at the political and social levels in the countries of the southern shores of the Mediterranean. “We have a duty of help and support”, she continued. “There will be dark times and backward steps, as we’ve experienced in our own history. […] There are may things that we can and must do. With and for them”.

Reconciliation policies must be a reality

“Diplomacy based only on the male gender is a waste of resources”, underscored Employment Minister Elsa Fornero. She reminded the conference that women are suited for the diplomatic career, indeed in some respects “more suited than men, since they are more patients, therefore better negotiators. They’re inclined to see the other’s point of view and are more far-sighted”. In Fornero’s view, the question we should be asking is “how can we organise society to exploit women’s input. Reconciliation policies”, she continued, “i.e. how to reconcile careers with family life, must be a reality and a ‘given’ in society, and must concern men as well as women”.