The world of conflict resolution and diplomacy is still a gentlemen's club. After Angela Merkel's efforts to haul in the Grexit and take moral command of the refugee crisis, I noticed it more. Why are we so few?
In 2015, I received a scholarship to study at The Fletcher School in the US, one of the most prestigious diplomatic training grounds in the world. My class all hold down jobs while doing the coursework. And many have families. My male colleagues frequently say their wives are "saints." The women don't have partners or just soldier on. One took an international finance exam in her hospital bed two days after giving birth. We women also often talk of the guilt we feel being away from our kids. Men in diplomacy can work in the field, but have wives at home to run the show.
I just read an article by Anne-Marie Slaughter, the former American foreign policy tzar who became famous for her 2012 essay about why women cannot have it all. I agree with her - it's a myth.
After my degree I want to work in Track II diplomacy, non-governmental organisations working on peacemaking and resolving conflicts. When I told my thesis advisor, she was thrilled: "There are so few women in this field!" she exclaimed. Why? Men are traditionally thought of as being better negotiators. "Women are often thought of as a third gender in this field," she said. (Meaning, we don't exist.)
Women are learning to be better negotiators, and we have more compassion - crucial to ending conflicts. That's why Merkel was so extraordinary last year: she was tough, but her humanity shone through. She's up there as my role model.
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