Episode 7 of the Women in Diplomacy podcast series features Dr Sandra Pralong, a state adviser in Romania’s Department for the Relations with Romanians Abroad, and a member of the Cabinet of the President of Romania. She has extensive experience in the field of communication. She served as the Director of Promotion of Newsweek in New York, and led the UN Development Programme’s communications efforts in the Central and East European region. She also served as a gender and civil society adviser at the UN Fund for Population. She spoke to Marta Kozielska, the LSE Ideas Women in Diplomacy Project Manager, about the different environments she has worked in, the importance of communication skills and the influence gender has had in influencing her professional goals and priorities.
Episode 6 of the podcast series features Her Excellency Dr Fatou Bensouda, who is currently serving as The Gambia’s High Commissioner to the UK. From 2012 to 2021 Dr Bensouda was the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – the first woman and the first African to serve in that capacity. She had previously served as the Deputy Prosecutor of the ICC, as Senior Legal Advisor in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and in a number of roles in The Gambia including Attorney General and Minister for Justice. She spoke to Dr Henriette Mueller, a member of the Women in Diplomacy team and an Assistant Professor of Gender, Governance and Society at NYU Abu Dhabi. They spoke about gender equality in international jurisprudence, and the obstacles women, especially women from the Global South, face as leaders in international law. They also discussed Dr Bensouda’s leadership in ensuring gender equality and diversity at the ICC, and in advancing accountability for sexual and gender-based crimes, a first for the ICC and an important step in the development of international criminal law.
In episode 5, Ambassador Nadia Theodore spoke to Professor Pamela Blackmon about the challenges of leading in a sector – trade – that has traditionally been dominated by men. Ambassador Theodore is Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization, the UN Conference on Trade and Development, the International Trade Centre and the World Intellectual Property Organization. She has over a dozen years of experience in trade diplomacy, and has also served as Vice President of Maple Leaf Foods. Professor Blackmon is a member of the Women in Diplomacy research team and a Professor of Political Science at Penn State Altoona. Ambassador Theodore reiterated that groups of diverse policy-makers help produce better, more representative policy: to have trade policy that works for the greatest number of people, then different perspectives, including those of women and others with intersectional identities, have to be incorporated into policy-making. She offered advice on how to counter biases and to seek out mentors for specific stages of your career.
The fourth episode of the podcast series features Baroness Catherine Ashton. Baroness Ashton served as Leader of the UK House of Lords, and then as EU Trade Commissioner, before assuming the role of the EU’s first High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Vice President of the European Commission, between 2009 and 2014. She has recently published a book, And Then What? Inside Stories of 21st-Century Diplomacy, about her time as EU High Representative. She spoke to Dr Rosa Balfour, the Director of Carnegie Europe, and a member of the LSE IDEAS Women in Diplomacy team. They discussed the challenges that Baroness Ashton faced trying to improve the gender balance and diversity within the new European External Action Service, the critical importance of diplomacy to help resolve problems and prevent further crises, and advice on finding mentors and building alliances in a multilateral setting.
The third episode of the podcast series features Ambassador Patricia Espinosa, the former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. She also served as the Foreign Minister of Mexico and an ambassador to several countries and international organizations, and she was appointed Ambassador Emeritus of Mexico in 2012. She is currently the Founding Partner and CEO of onepoint5, a consulting firm specialising on climate change. At an LSE IDEAS online public event, she spoke to Dr Kamya Choudary, a member of the Women in Diplomacy research team and India Policy Fellow at LSE’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. They discussed the need for bold action to combat climate change, strategies for overcoming obstacles to the progression of women (especially from the Global South) in diplomacy, and what international organisations and national diplomatic services need to do to ensure that the diplomatic space is inclusive and diverse.
The second episode in the podcast series features the British Ambassador to the United States, Dame Karen Pierce. Ambassador Pierce is the first female British ambassador to the United States, and before that was the first female British Permanent Representative to the UN in New York. She has also served as British Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, and has worked on security issues in the Balkans and Afghanistan. She talked to Dr Ingvild Bode, a member of the 'Women in Diplomacy' research team and an associate professor at the University of Southern Denmark. They discussed the differences between serving in bilateral and multilateral settings, the importance of finding supportive mentors, and finding the courage to be a trailblazer.
The first episode in the podcast series features Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization, and the first woman and first African to lead the body tasked with lowering trade barriers and fostering the inclusion of developing countries in the global trading system. Among her many publications, Dr Okonjo Iweala also co-authored a book on Women and Leadership. Her appointment as Director-General in March 2021 was a major step forward in improving gender parity in the WTO leadership. As she recounts in the podcast, she has taken steps to try to make women and trade a much stronger part of what the WTO does, and to implement a gender policy framework within the WTO to recruit women and advance their careers in the organization.