Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy-1678276876626
Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy on Wednesday launches Women in Diplomacy Index for 2023 on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy (AGDA) has launched its Women in Diplomacy Index for 2023 on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

The new and expanded 2023 index now tracks the percentage share of women ambassadors across all 193 United Nations (UN) member states.

Following the launch, the is set to host an interactive virtual panel discussion with diplomats and speakers on the topic of gender equality in foreign affairs and diplomacy.

Women ambassadors

The 2023 Index shows that women remain underrepresented in ambassadorship positions across the world, as only 20.5 per cent of all ambassadors are women. The data also shows that Canada takes the lead in having appointed the highest share of women ambassadors and permanent representatives, with 51 per cent of its ambassadorial posts being held by women. Andorra, the Maldives, and Monaco’s share of women ambassadors stands at a close 50 per cent, while Finland, Ghana, Nicaragua, Sweden, the Bahamas, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the United States all have percentage shares of women ambassadors ranging between 41 per cent and 49.5 per cent. Taken together, these countries constitute the top 12 countries where gender equality in their diplomatic corps has been achieved or is within close reach.

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Slow rise in numbers

Progress towards gender equality in diplomacy overall has been slow and uneven. For the countries of the G20, their average share of women ambassadors increased to 21 per cent in 2023, compared to 17 per cent in 2018 – which is commendable. When looking at a larger dataset of 40 countries, the average share of women ambassadors increased by just 1 per cent since 2022 and stands at 23 per cent in 2023, indicating a slow rise in the number of women in top diplomatic posts.

The Women in Diplomacy Index 2023 also underscores how active the UAE has been in advancing women’s leadership in diplomacy becoming one of the top four performers for the MENA region. Since 2018, the UAE has had a 5.5 per cent increase in its appointments of women ambassadors, placing them in key cities around the world such as Paris, Washington DC, and even at the UN in New York.

Notable progress

“It takes the support, effort, and interest of several parties to help overcome the biases and stereotypes associated with being a woman in the foreign affairs space. This year’s Women in Diplomacy Index report shows us that while we have made notable progress towards women’s empowerment, much work still needs to be done. I hope we can come together to be the inspiration for the next generation of women leaders in the UAE,” said Nickolay Mladenov, Director General of AGDA.

“At AGDA, we firmly believe in the importance of collaborative efforts to promote women’s participation and leadership in the diplomatic field. We are proud to launch our 2023 edition of the Women in Diplomacy Index, which is the most comprehensive to date as it includes all 193 UN member states. With this report at its helm, AGDA showcases its unwavering support for women’s empowerment and hopes to drive positive change in this space both within the UAE and worldwide,” he added.

Later today, AGDA will host a virtual panel discussion to celebrate International Women’s Day 2023 and the launch of the index. This discussion will explore the topic of gender equality in foreign affairs and diplomacy.

Women Diplomacy

“First published in 2018, the Women in Diplomacy Index originally sought to track the percentage share of women ambassadors in the countries of the G20 and the European Union. We have expanded this project every year since then. The 2023 dataset is quite unique as it is now able to track more than 12,000 ambassadorial appointments worldwide on a yearly basis. It focuses on ambassadorships as well as permanent representatives to gauge the degree to which women assume some of the most prominent leadership positions in the world of diplomacy. AGDA is the only diplomatic centre in the region to track and present such important information,” said Dr Sara Chehab, a senior research fellow at AGDA who will be presenting the Index at the panel.

“As more states commit to making their foreign security and development policies gender inclusive, we believe that this index can help frame vital conversations such as the need to promote and appoint more women to top diplomatic posts,” she added.

ADGA continues to be a strong advocate and ally for gender equality, women’s empowerment, and women’s rights. In 2022, a notable 55 per cent of AGDA’s workforce was comprised of Emirati women, and a significant 60 per cent of its graduating classes since 2016 has been female.