Sunday, March 23, 2014

From "Prostitute" to Respected Member of the UN

I read this yesterday and had to include it in the Women's History Month line-up.

By Sangwon Yoon:

Days of Being Called a Prostitute Pass as UN Women Rise to Power

March 19 (Bloomberg) -- Dame Margaret Anstee grew accustomed to accusations that she was a prostitute and to being mistaken for her male deputy’s secretary. She doesn’t hold it against anyone: There weren’t many women diplomats at the United Nations when she started work there in 1952.
“Diplomacy was a bastion of male chauvinism -- it had never been done any other way when I started my career,” said Anstee, now 88, in a phone interview. “Men were just getting accustomed to having us around as peers.”

There’s no longer any room for excuses about excluding women, said Anstee, one of the U.K.’s first female diplomats, who led 11 UN operations around the world and in 1992 became the first woman to head a UN peacekeeping mission, in Angola.

While women diplomats are still far from a majority at the UN, they have reached a critical mass. A record one-third of the members of the UN Security Council, the organization’s most powerful body, are represented by women. Thirty of the UN’s 193 members have female ambassadors -- also the most since the international body was created in 1945.

In the preamble to its charter that year, the UN asserted its determination “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women.” The world body has been slow to live up to that lofty mission, say some of the women diplomats who have served there. Instead, they say, they’ve been subject to the same slights and exclusions as their counterparts in other fields.

For more: go here.

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