Gender equality is undeniably important in diplomacy. The need for women’s political participation has been repeatedly emphasised. The UN Secretary-General’s 2012 Five-Year Action Agenda stressed the importance of promoting ‘women’s political participation worldwide’, and the Sustainable Development Goals call to ‘ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life’.
Despite the many commitments that have been made at different levels of the political spectrum, gender balance in political forums, especially when looking at those in leadership positions, continues to be an issue of concern.
The International Gender Champions Geneva recently published a study on gender representation in permanent missions in Geneva, which shows the disparity between male and female diplomatic staff: in 2016, men held 66% of the diplomatic positions in Geneva, compared to 34% of female staff. The disparity is even greater when looking at ambassadors, with 78% men compared to 22% women. The picture becomes even more grim when realising that, over the past ten years, gender equality in Geneva’s permanent missions has only improved by 4% (see a blogpost by Diplo’s Dr Katharina Höne from 2013, which shows surprisingly similar results in climate change negotiations).
To get a better picture of the gender disparity in individual permanent missions, and to be able to compare between countries and regions, DiploFoundation’s Aye Mya Nyein has developed an interactive map. This map shows the gender balance in the permanent missions for every country that has representation to the UN office in Geneva. Apart from the full view, there is a possibility to filter on percentages (e.g. if you want to see only those missions with at least 50% female representatives, or those with fewer than 20%) and to filter on male and female heads of missions.
The data for the map were obtained from the October 2016 version of the UN Blue Book, which lists the staff and contact details of permanent missions and permanent observer offices.